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Summary of occupation

Anaesthetists administer anaesthesia that block the sensation of pain for patients undergoing surgery and related procedures. They safely render patients unconscious so that surgeons may perform operations without the patient being aware of, or feeling, any pain. They carefully assess a patient's requirements, administer anaesthesia, monitor a patient's vital signs during surgery and care for any patients who may have an adverse reaction to the anaesthesia.

ANZSCO description: Provides direct medical care to patients requiring general or local anaesthesia for surgical, diagnostic and other procedures such as prevention of pain and maintenance of body function (registration or licensing is required).
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Intensive Care Anaesthetist, Obstetric Anaesthetist, Pain Management Specialist
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An anaesthetist needs:

  • an interest in the well-being of others, a caring attitude
  • good communication and people skills
  • good hand-eye coordination, precision and accuracy
  • to work well under high pressure or emergency situations
  • to be reliable and responsible.
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Working conditions

Anaesthetists work in hospitals, day surgeries and at universities. They conduct most of their work in operating theatres or hospital rooms, which have strict hygiene and safety standards. It is important for anaesthetists to keep up-to-date on the development of the latest anaesthesia and relevant medical technology. Some anaesthetists work in teaching environments, or are required to assist in on-the-job training at hospitals. Anaesthetists are often on call, so work irregular hours.

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Salary details

On average, anaesthetists can expect to earn between $2 692.30 and $3 461.53 per week ($140 000 and $180 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

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Tools and technologies

Anaesthetists use complex medical machines that monitor patient's vital signs and administer anaesthesia. They also use a variety of pain maintenance drugs that they carefully tailor towards individual requirements. The use of these machines and the administration of anaesthesia can be highly complicated and therefore requires a great deal of precision and accuracy

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an anaesthetist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in anaesthetics.

In Western Australia, postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To specialise in anaesthetics, doctors can apply to the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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