Most people think of an anaesthesiologist (pronounced ana-stee-see-olo-jist) as the person who puts you to sleep before surgery. That’s not completely wrong, but an anaesthesiologist’s job is quite a bit more involved than that – as their price tag might suggest.
Anaesthesiologists are doctors who’ve completed the six-year degree, followed by at least another four years of study to specialise in anaesthesiology.
South Africa only has about 1000 anaesthesiologists, and more than 800 of these work in the private sector. Fewer than 200 qualified anaesthesiologists service the 40 million South Africans who use public health facilities. In many cases where anaesthesiologists aren’t available, anaesthesia is administered by regular doctors who’ve received basic training in anaesthesiology.
Health-e News recently spent a day with an anaesthesiologist to find out what they do while you are sleeping.