Anesthetist Job Description

Anesthetist Job Description, Skills, and Salary

Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an anesthetist. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an anesthetist.


Who is an Anesthetist?

Anesthesiology is a branch or specialty in medicine concerned with the perioperative care of patients before, during, and after surgery. It consists of intensive care medicine, anesthesia, pain medicine, and critical emergency medicine. An expert or professional that specializes in anesthesiology is called an anesthetist. Mostly, anesthetists are physicians or medical doctors; however, other healthcare practitioners like nurses can perform anesthesiology as well albeit under the supervision and guidance of the surgical or intensive care team. Anesthesiology has grown to be one of the most important careers in medicine and surgery.

The study and use of anesthesia on patients to safely support their vital functions through the perioperative period constitutes the core elements of anesthesiology. Anesthesia can be regional, local, or general; a regional anesthetic numbs a specific part of the body and is used for cesarian sessions. Relatively, a local anesthetic is used by a dentist when numbing a jaw or gums to block sensations in small areas. On the other hand, a general anesthetic renders the patient unconscious and is mostly used for complicated surgical procedures. Also, the career involves the use of several inhaled and inject medications to produce a loss of sensation on patients making it possible to carry out procedures that would otherwise cause excruciating pain or be technically unfeasible. Vast and intense knowledge of non-invasive and invasive organ support techniques that can be used to control patients is essential for safe anesthesiology. Some of these techniques include echocardiography, ultrasonography, advanced airway management, and invasive and non-invasive hemodynamic monitors.

Anesthetists have been reported to be the largest group of specialist medical personnel; they provide pain management to patients undergoing surgical, psychiatric, and other medical procedures. An anesthetist assesses the combined risks of the planned operation and anesthesia; they ensure the form of anesthesia is safe during, before, and after the surgery before administering them. In an operating room, the anesthetist is responsible for the ongoing and overall wellbeing of the patient throughout the operation alongside administering anesthesia. They position the patients properly to minimize physiological challenges and provide the best visualization and access to the surgical site.

Standard positioning of patients is taught in schools and during training. Also, positioning is crucial to reducing complications and must protect the patient’s joints and skin. Importantly, the anesthetist monitors the patient all through the surgical procedure by continuously evaluating the oxygen, ventilation, circulation, temperature, and other parameters throughout the process. If any of the parameters falls short of recommendation, standard, or acceptable ranges, the anesthetist quickly notifies the surgical team so adequate intervention and remedy can be taken. Hence, the anesthetists are detail-oriented, attentive, observant, wide-awake, and sharp-eyed to observe changes in the condition of the patient. Often, an anesthetist is mandated to stick to and follow the perioperative plan.

An anesthetist examines the patients’ health before discussing the best type of anesthetic to administer and teams with the surgical personnel to deal with emergencies in the theatre. Sometimes, the anesthetist works in other areas of the hospital such as wards although most of their time is spent in the operating theatre working on various patients including pregnant women, those with chronic pains, babies, elderly patients, and individuals undergoing operations. Most anesthetists focus on pain medicine, intensive care medicine, or pre-hospital emergency medicine. The career prospect for anesthetists is encouraging; the role offers opportunities for growth, specialization, and advancement. Assistant anesthetists can grow in experience and remuneration within three to five years for example. Similarly, physicians and other consultants can gain more clinical experience and grow to become medical directors, intensive care managers, or clinical directors.

Since patients sometimes feel discomfort after certain medical or surgical procedures, an anesthetist helps to transition the patient through, into, and, after the process with ease. Great anesthetists handle the patients’ anesthetic regimen with caution to ensure they have no complications stemming from the medication administered throughout the procedure. Though rarely, an anesthetist restores and stabilizes the patient for the procedure to continue or to be attempted another day when reactions to anesthesia occur. Unlike other doctors or the healthcare personnel, an anesthetist rarely or sparingly meets with patients until the day of the operation. They receive the patient’s medical history, records, and instructions/orders before the surgery. Additionally, most anesthetists have an irregular or asymmetrical work schedule; the number of daily or weekly hours spent depends on the nature and number of procedures. Ultimately, the most successful and top-notch anesthetists have high levels of situational awareness, superior knowledge of anesthesia procedures, extensive leadership qualities, and solid hand-eye coordination. Despite being trained to provide support before, during, and after surgeries or operations, most anesthetists specialize in certain areas such as;

  • Pediatric anesthesia: They provide anesthesia and pain management for children.
  • Hospice and palliative anesthesia: Providing care for the dying in palliative care and hospices.
  • Cardiac anesthesia for heart-related surgical procedures.
  • Obstetric anesthesia: Offering pain relief during labor and delivery.
  • Neuro-anesthesia: Providing care for surgical procedures involving the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system.

Before, During, and After Surgery

Before the surgery, an anesthetist ensures the patients are suited for the surgery and can handle the anesthetic. They answer questions about the anesthetic regimen or processes related to the medical procedure and subsequently administer the anesthesia before the surgery. During the surgery, the anesthetist monitors and observes the patient checking vital signs and managing pain. Furthermore, they manage chronic medical conditions throughout the surgery and proffer or coordinate the management of problems that arise. Once the surgery is complete, they continuously supervise the patient’s recovery from the anesthetic effects and inform the medical team of the patient’s readiness for discharge. An anesthetist creates a plan to manage the patient’s pain after they are discharged as well.


Types of Anesthetists

Different types of anesthetists perform various duties as part of an anesthetic care team;

  1. Anesthetist assistants: These are skilled, certified, and specialized healthcare professionals trained to deliver, maintain, and monitor anesthesia.
  2. Physician anesthetists: They are highly trained medical doctors with expertise in anesthesiology. They have the qualifications and skills to make anesthetic-related decisions and create perioperative plans.
  3. Nurse anesthetist: A nurse anesthetist provides anesthesia and care before and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures.


Anesthetist Job Description

Below are the anesthetist job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write an anesthetist job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

The job of an anesthetist can be physically and emotionally demanding; it can also be rewarding. Some anesthetists perform their duties in resuscitation services, critical care services, or emergency units amongst others; whilst opportunities for teaching and training medical students, nursing and midwifery students, and doctors in training exist. Hence, an anesthetist performs the following duties;

  • Administers medication for pain relief in surgery: After meeting with the patient and creating the perioperative plan, the anesthetist administers pain relief during the operation. Sometimes, the physician anesthetists supervise nurse anesthetists or anesthesia assistants in the administration of medication for pain relief.
  • Reverses the effects of anesthesia after surgery:  After the surgical procedure, an anesthetist is responsible for the patient’s general care. They reverse the effects of the anesthetic and evaluate and keep them comfortable as they recover. This is done in collaboration with other health and care workers such as nurses.
  • Provides critical and emergency care: They play vital roles in critical care, treatment, and trauma. An anesthetist makes diagnoses, assesses patients, ensures that infection is prevented, and provides support for breathing and circulation. He/she contributes to emergencies, and provide cardiac and airway resuscitation advanced life support, and pain control.
  • Assists and advises on pain control: Most anesthetists in pain medicine assist patients who develop pain due to burns, headaches, herpes, or diabetes. Also, they offer advice, medication, rehabilitative services, and other assistance to people experiencing abdominal pain, chest pain, and pelvic pain. Often, this goes hand in hand with counseling.
  • Ensures the correct dose of the anesthetic regimen is administered at the right time.
  • Monitors crucial signs or parameters such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and temperature throughout the procedure.
  • Manages any anesthetic-related complication that arises during the procedure.
  • Manages IV for intravenous fluids which control dehydration and allow the administration of medications through the drip.
  • Monitors the depth and level of anesthesia and makes adjustments where necessary.
  • Performs blood transfusion if needed.
  • Reviews the patient’s medications and nutrients to determine if they can be taken before surgery.
  • Discovers and treats any side effects the patient may be experiencing.
  • Assesses whether a patient is fit enough to undertake an operation or procedure.
  • Reassures patients about what will happen during and after the procedure.
  • Creates and agrees on the anesthetic and perioperative plans.
  • Performs administrative tasks in areas that relate to the care of the patients such as a summary of patients’ treatment plan and the writing of discharge letters.
  • Attends multidisciplinary team meetings, conferences, and seminars both off-site and on-site.
  • Trains, teaches, and supervises junior staff in critical care and anesthesiology.
  • Approves sedative, local, general, or regional anesthetics.
  • Informs patients of the risks associated with anesthesia.
  • Complies with hospital and medical guidelines, rules, and standards while working.



An anesthetist plays a significant role in the surgical process and is responsible for administering medication and pain relief as well as monitoring important signs throughout a medical procedure. Like most medical and healthcare professionals, an anesthetist must complete an undergraduate, graduate, and residency program before launching their careers. Similarly, nurse anesthetists and anesthetist assistants also complete their relevant programs and degrees. This is accompanied by rigorous training in the field. Thus, the highlighted points below form the main criteria or qualifications to practice as an anesthetist;

  • Education: An anesthetist must complete a four-year undergraduate degree in medicine or a related healthcare field. On completion, candidates must enroll and be accepted in medical schools to complete a Doctor of Medicine and acquire the necessary training. All nurses and other allied health anesthetists must undertake additional certification courses to qualify as anesthetists.
  • Training: All anesthetists must complete residency programs before practicing on their own. Such programs are strictly supervised by experienced and senior anesthetists and usually last for a minimum of four years. Training is accompanied by acquiring relevant on-the-job experience and is mandatory for all candidates.
  • Certification: An anesthetist is required to pass a medical and licensing examination after graduating from medical school. You may have to pass an additional test if you prefer to specialize in a subunit such as palliative care, obstetric or critical care anesthesiology.


Essential Skills

Strong technical skills and high intelligence are basic skills an anesthetist must demonstrate and harbor. Since the anesthetics often vary, the individual needs critical thinking and observational skills to ensure the right anesthetic regimen is administered always. Therefore, the following are examples of skills an anesthetist must possess to thrive in the field;

Monitoring skills: Generally, medical personnel are responsible for monitoring and ensuring the overall well-being of patients. Hence, an anesthetist needs excellent monitoring skills to track changes in vital signs and the patient’s condition during anesthesia.

Attention to detail: The smallest detail in a patient’s medical history could be a major warning sign that the patient should abstain from certain medications. The anesthetist must be able to detect early signs of adverse reactions to the medication before, during, and after a surgical procedure.

Problem-solving skills: Problem-solving skills are essential should something not go according to plan. In such cases, an anesthetist must be prepared to deal with the crisis or adverse reaction from the anesthesia.

Verbal communication skills: An anesthetist is often required to communicate concisely and clearly with both surgeons and patients. Relatively, the anesthetist communicates and makes sure the patients and their families fully understand the inherent risks associated with certain kinds of anesthetics.


How to Become an Anesthetist

There are several steps that an individual must take to become an anesthetist including;

  • Get a medical or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
  • Study and pass the mandatory medical college admission test to get into a medical school.
  • After medical school, complete a residency program to gain specific medical and anesthesiology training and experience.
  • Become a licensed anesthetist and earn additional certification.
  • Apply for anesthetist roles.


Where to Work

Most anesthetists spend their time in operating theatres; however, they also perform numerous tasks in other areas of the hospital. Other employers of an anesthetist include outpatient surgical centers, clinics, critical care, and hospices. The anesthetist can work in the following areas;

  • Obstetric units
  • Radiology
  • Resuscitation services
  • Emergency units
  • Acute and chronic pain teams
  • Dentistry
  • Research
  • Psychiatry
  • Perioperative clinics


Anesthetist Salary Scale

The average salary of an anesthetist in the United States is estimated to be $343,412 per year. In Britain, a highly trained and experienced anesthetist earns between £84,559 to £114,003 yearly.

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