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Choosing a Medical Specialty: Anesthesiology

Discussion in 'Anesthesia' started by Ghada Ali youssef, May 27, 2017.

  1. Ghada Ali youssef

    Ghada Ali youssef Golden Member

    Dec 29, 2016
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    While many of my classmates went into medical school with a vision of their future practice, I felt like a ball of clay that could be molded into anything. They say that the first question you have to ask yourself when choosing a medical specialty is whether you’re surgical or medical. While there is a lot of truth to this advice, anesthesiology is a field that straddles the divide between the two realms. Here is a little more about the specialty to help you decide if it’s a good fit for you:

    My first exposure to anesthesiology
    The summer prior to starting medical school, I stumbled across Dr. Michelle Au’s blog, “The Underwear Drawer” and read it from the first entry when she was still in medical school. While she did not talk extensively about being an anesthesiologist, reading her blog was my first exposure to the specialty.

    As a first year medical student, I participated in a Cardiology summer internship where I spent a week on cardiothoracic surgery, general cardiology, electrophysiology, and interventional cardiology. I also shadowed a clinical geneticist.

    Through my branch of the American Medical Women’s Association, I organized specialty dinners with attending physicians and explored psychiatry, neurosurgery, cardiology, and pathology. Sometime during my second year, I shadowed a pediatric anesthesiologist, but still didn’t think I could commit to a single specialty.

    Why I ultimately chose anesthesiology
    My third year, I started a surgery rotation and loved it. However, I kept hearing the same advice: “If you love anything else beside surgery, do that.” Looking back on my rotation, I realize that my view of the daily life of a surgeon was inaccurate –a couple of the surgeons on my service were out of town, and I rarely stayed at the hospital past 6PM. The grueling hours of surgical residency, even as an attending were not something I was willing to commit to. And ultimately, I realized during my anesthesiology elective that I could get the best of both the surgical and medical worlds.

    Currently, I am finishing my PGY-2 year in anesthesiology and love it. Not only do we have the opportunity to be an operating room environment, but we must have a firm understanding of physiology, pharmacology, and general medical pathology. We are comfortable with management and resuscitation of critically ill patients. As first-responders, we can do it all –start an IV, manage the airway, administer medications, and direct medical therapy. We also have the opportunity to oversee the care of patients in intensive care units, obstetric patients both in an L&D and operative setting, and work in an outpatient clinic managing pain.

    My final thoughts on the anesthesiology specialty
    Anesthesiology has been cited as a “lifestyle” field because much of the work can be done in shifts, and we do not typically take patient care home with us. Although the practice of anesthesiology can be amenable to part-time work, it is important to realize that providing anesthetic care can be very stressful. Even healthy patients can have devastating airway complications or reactions to anesthetics, and it’s important that you’re prepared to manage anything.



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