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If you have ever undergone an operation that required you to be unconscious, then chances are you have consulted with an anesthetist. Anesthetists administer different forms of anesthetics to make patients unaware and free of pain during and after surgical procedures and during births. Anesthetists know about the human body and how it functions, the effects of anesthetics and other drugs on the body, and how to treat allergic reactions. They are fully trained to revive and resuscitate people and educated in medical ethics and the law as well as anesthetic and monitoring equipment. Anesthetists generally have a genuine concern for the well-being of others.

Anesthetists usually work as part of a team. They interact with a variety of people, including other health professionals and patients. They are usually involved in the training of junior doctors and registrar anesthetists. Anesthetists may also work in maternity wards, or in acute and chronic pain management teams.

Initially, anesthetists start on non-urgent cases with a consultant and basically give local anesthetic for surgery and for pain relief after operations. Then, anesthetists gradually take on more responsibility and learn to anesthetize patients with more and more serious conditions.

Anesthetists do not just give anesthetic injections. There is a whole patient process involved. They discuss possible risks, listen to patients' concerns, and provide information and reassurance. Before giving anesthesia, they talk with patients and family members. They explain what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

They must ensure that a patient is in stable condition before they have their operation. For example, those who have been in traffic accidents may need to be resuscitated first, or have a blood transfusion before they are anesthetised. Also, there are significant risks and side effects associated with anesthetics, so these specialists assess a patient's medical condition and determine what sort of problems are likely to occur while they are under the influence of an anesthetic. During the operation, an anesthetist is continually monitoring a patient, watching the temperature, pulse, heart, and breathing rates.

The reason they must closely monitor patients in operations is in case an unexpected complication occurs. For example, a patient may have an allergic reaction to a drug. After the surgery ends, the anesthetist wakes up the patients to make sure they are okay, and then they admit the patients into the hospital ward.
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Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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