Anaesthesia is a very popular career choice for hospital doctors. Anaesthetists are involved in caring for a wide range of patients. This includes of course patients undergoing surgical operations but also includes patients in intensive care, unconscious patients (eg following head injury), and critically ill patients requiring transfer within or between hospitals. Furthermore, anaesthetists play a pivotal role in the provision of pain relief, not only following surgery but also for patients suffering chronic intractable pain.
In the UK, training in Anaesthesia is organised by the Royal College of Anaesthetists which determines the content of training programmes, awards the Fellowship of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (FRCA) and recommends the award of a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST) to eligible trainees. The College is also responsible for the maintenance of standards in Anaesthesia in the UK.
After Full RegistrationIt is usual for a prospective anaesthetic trainee to have spent at least one year in another specialty before embarking on training in anaesthesia. While this is not an absolute pre-requisite, it is recommended by the Royal College of Anaesthetists and there are few trainees today who gone straight from their house-jobs into anaesthetics.
SHO TrainingAnaesthetic trainees undergo two years training at the SHO grade. During these two years, they must undergo at least 21 months of training in anaesthetics and 3 months training in intensive care. After 12 months they are eligible to sit the primary FRCA examination of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (or its Irish equivalent). Trainees are only allowed four attempts at the primary examination!
Specialist Registrar TrainingAfter satisfactorily, completing SHO training a trainee anaesthetist is able to apply for an SpR job. Before being accredited by the Specialist Training Authority, a trainee must have completed 5 years recognised SpR training. The core content of the SpR training is decided by the Royal College and includes different subspecialties of Anaesthesia as well as Intensive Care but there is a degree of flexibility to allow a trainee to tailor his training to suit his future career intentions, to undertake some training abroad or to carry out research.
It is usually during the first two years as an SpR that a trainee passes the final FRCA examination. Trainees are not permitted to enter the third year of SpR training without the FRCA and are allowed only six attempts at the examination. After successfully completing five years as an SpR, a trainee can apply to the Specialist Training Authority for a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training in Anaesthesia (CCST) thereby becoming eligible to apply for a consultant post. Trainees who wish to pursue a career in Intensive Care and whose training reflects this can obtain a CCST in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care and may also sit the Diploma in Intensive Care Medicine.
Consultant Posts.Although all consultants will have undergone a broad-based training in Anaesthesia, many specialise in a particular branch of anaesthesia, for example cardiac or paediatric anaesthesia. Furthermore, the great majority of consultant posts in Intensive Care in the UK are filled by Anaesthetists. Those with a particular interest in research or teaching may work in a University post. Consultants are required to undertake continuing professional development which is monitored by the Royal College of Anaesthetists.
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Department of Anaesthetics
Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
1 Lauriston Place
Page written by Carl Moores
Last updated 16/08/99
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