1. What is your current job title and how did you decide on this career choice?
Job title: Anesthesiologist.
I knew I wanted to become a doctor as I was interested in science and in providing care to people. In medical school, I did a rotation in anesthesia and I found it to be quite interesting; you got to do a lot of hands -on procedures while doing direct patient care. The application of pharmacology (medications) to alter patients’ physiology was fascinating to me.
2. What types of qualities are important for this career choice?
One needs to be willing to put in long hours of study and training over many years in order to be successful in this field. Like all areas of medicine, you have to be able to maintain compassion for your patients even though you may be exhausted and under stress. On the upside, it is very rewarding to be able to use your skills and knowledge to help people, often in life and death situations. A high degree of interest in the physical sciences is required as well as discipline and professionalism thus making tattoos relatively frowned upon! You work with people often, whether they be patients of members of the operating room team.
3. What is a typical day or week in your position like? What exactly do you do and what kind of environment do you work in?
A typical day is difficult to describe as I work highly irregular hours. However, most of us will work from 630 am to 5pm on average weekdays with variable ending times. If we are on call, we will often work late into the night, especially if there are emergency cases. 4 of us will cover the weekends, 24 hours each day.
As an anesthesiologist, I am responsible for providing anesthesia to patients who are undergoing surgical procedures. Anesthesia includes amnesia (making patients unaware of their surgery), and analgesia ( preventing or reducing pain). I do this through the administration of medications that put the patients in a very deep sleep. These medication however often have negative effects on patients’ vital organs, primarily the heart, lungs and brain. Therefore, I must continually monitor vital sings to ensure patient safety. If a problem arises, I must act quickly to correct the problem to avoid patient injury. I can do this by giving more medications and/of performing procedures.
4. What areas of study would you suggest for kids interested in your field? What path would you suggest (specific majors/ how many years of schooling are required)?
I would suggest that anyone interested in anesthesia study physical sciences such as chemistry, physics, biology, biochemistry, anatomy.
Any major will be acceptable for applying to medical school as long as certain course requirements are met such as 2 years of chemistry, 1 year of biology and 1 year of physics. After high school, you must complete 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school and 4 years of specialty training called a residency.
5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in your field?
If this interests you, I would advise that you talk personally to an anesthesiologist and meet with your counselor to plan the next few years of schooling in order to optimize your chances of gaining acceptance to a good college and eventually, medical school.
6. Do you have a myth buster you would like to share about your field?
Anesthesiology is often depicted as an easy and boring specialty but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Under anesthesia, the patients are completely dependent upon you to get them through the surgery which can be very stressful at times, especially if they are undergoing emergency surgery such as life saving surgery following an automobile accident.
7. Did you take a linear path to get here? If not, what were some pivotal points that changed your direction?
My path was far from linear. After graduating from college, I took a job with the Federal Aviation Administration as an air traffic controller. I did that job for 7 years before deciding to apply to medical school. One major factor in my decision was that I wanted to be more involved in helping people, i.e., more hands on work as opposed to just talking to pilots over a microphone. Also, I felt that a medical degree would open up more possibilities for me overall.
8. What personal qualities have helped you succeed in your career?
I am a fairly benevolent person, always seeking the best possible course of action that will benefit the patient. As group president, I try to seek what’s best for the greater good, and not just me.
9. What do you most enjoy about your career and what is the most difficult for you?
I enjoy the feeling that comes from knowing that I used my skills and knowledge to make someone’s life better, and, in some cases, that I played a part in saving their life.
The most difficult part is accepting a patient’s death, despite your best efforts. it is also very difficult in dealing with government regulations that focus more on following a set of rules rather than patient care.
10. What kind of work experience as a student would be the most beneficial for this career?
I would recommend volunteering at a hospital to see if you are comfortable in that setting.
11. What education or training is required, if any, to reach your position?
After high school, you will need 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, then 4 years of residency speciality training.
12. If you weren’t in this career field, what other career would you be interested in? and why?
I would have likely stayed on with the FAA as a controller. That career was rewarding as well and I could have retired at a young age thereby allowing me to seek a second career path.