Why Consider A Career In Anesthesiology

The discovery of anesthesia and the ability to perform surgery without the sensation of pain remains one of the greatest accomplishments of medicine. October 16, 1846 — the first public demonstration of anesthesia—was an important date for all anesthesiologists. In the now-famous Ether Dome of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. William Morton administered the first anesthetic (ether) to a patient undergoing neck surgery. To the amazement of the skeptical surgeon and observers, the patient did not scream at the moment of first incision near his tumor. Since that time, more and more anesthetics followed: cyclopropane, halothane, sevoflurane, propofol, and many others. Today, the field of anesthesiology has made incredible progress in patient care, safety, and quality. Yet in spite of these achievements, the mechanism of how general anesthetics actually work continues to remain largely a mystery.

If you are considering a career in anesthesiology, the future looks very bright. The current data project a significant shortage of anesthesiologists for the next 10 years.12 Anesthesiology was one of the most competitive specialties to match in the 1980s and early 1990s. It is poised for a remarkable comeback, as the specialty's popularity has skyrocketed today among top graduates from US medical schools. In 2002, while only 6% of all US seniors entered the field of anesthesiology, there was a 27% increase in applicants, which led to the lowest number of unfilled residency positions in the history of the anesthesia Match.13

Anesthesiology is a challenging, fast-paced field that combines many aspects f

vital signs

ANESTHESIOLOGY

2002 MATCH

STATISTICS

• 1588 applicants competed for 1169 positions

• 992 US seniors and 596 independent applicants ranked at least one anesthesiology program

• Program directors ranked 9.1 candidates for each available position

• 95.2% of all positions were filled in the initial Match

• The successful applicants: 81.8% US seniors, 13.1% foreign-trained physicians, and 4% osteopathic graduates

• Unmatched rate for US seniors applying only to anesthe-siology: 5.2%

Source: National Resident Matching Program of medicine: on-the-spot differential diagnoses, the use of advanced pharmacology to correct problems in physiology, rewarding patient contact, and hands-on procedures. Every day, you are given the inspiring, yet humbling, responsibility of keeping patients alive during surgery. As their guardian and advocate, you protect their lives during a time when they cannot do so themselves. Some might consider anesthesiology the best kept secret in medicine.

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