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Purpose and Mission
Part of the new trend in critical care toward specialized, intensivist physicians working in the ICU, critical care anaesthetists work with trauma surgeons and other highly trained specialists to provide appropriate anesthesia during surgical procedures and for critically ill patients during recovery. More and more hospitals are switching to the intensivist ICU model, meaning critical care anesthesiologists are in great demand today.
Their primary responsibility is to make sure that the critically ill patients are suitably anesthetized for surgery or to control the pain after surgery or due to trauma.
Most anaesthetists work as part of a private practice, and are supervised by the management board of the practice. Those who are direct employees of hospitals and clinics typically report to a mid-level administrator or clinical director.
Critical care anaesthetists are often responsible for overseeing anaesthesia for all patients in the ICU. Senior ICU anaesthesiologists often train and evaluate residents, therapists and technical staff. Some also become members of hospital medical committees or on the management board of their practise.
All physicians first get a bachelor’s degree and then complete medical school to earn an MD. New doctors who want to become anaesthesiologists then undertake a four-year clinical residency to learn from experienced colleagues.
Following their residency, anesthesiologists who are interested in working in the ICU will complete a one-year fellowship in critical care medicine.
Keep in mind that all practicing medical doctors must register with both the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) and with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Responsibilities of a Critical Care Anaesthetist
Critical care anaesthetists have a broad range of professional responsibilities relating to preparing patients for medical procedures. Their primary responsibility is to provide anesthesia-related medical care to patients in a variety of situations including
The new model where ICUs are staffed by critical care intensivists have reduced costs and improved mortality rates. This has been accomplished by introducing new standards and protocols in ICU treatments. Acute lung illnesses and injuries, for example, can now be treated much more effectively with new ventilation and lung volume control strategies developed by critical care intensivists. Related to this, keep in mind that critical care anaesthetists and other intensivists have more time to focus on ICU patients without the distraction of seeing patients on other floors of a hospital or off site.