Specialist anaesthetists are fully qualified medical doctors who hold a degree in medicine and spend at least two years working in the hospital system before completing a further five years (or equivalent) of accredited training in anaesthesia culminating in being awarded a diploma of fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), which can be recognised by the initials FANZCA after their name.

The ANZCA training program includes at least two years of general medical education and training followed by five years of approved specialist training. This includes multiple assessments, both at the hospitals where trainees work and by formal examinations. When trainees are in the training program they are called registrars. After completing the five-year training program, successful registrars can become Fellows of the College and can practise as anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand.

Anaesthetists provide a wide range of medical services and are part of multidisciplinary teams providing health care to patients.

Anaesthetists have a direct role in assessing patients before operations. They play an important and primary role in caring for the patient before, during and after surgery. They are trained in all forms of anaesthesia.

Anaesthetists play a pivotal role in resuscitating acutely unwell patients, including trauma victims, and assist with the management of patients suffering from acute or chronic pain, as well as providing pain relief for women in labour.

Clinical anaesthesia is built on the knowledge of physiology (how the body works) and pharmacology (how medications work in the body). A thorough understanding is required about the ways in which the body responds to anaesthesia and surgery, and how these physiological responses are affected and altered by the patient's health. Anaesthetists must have an extensive knowledge of medicine and surgery as an understanding of the basic sciences.


How does your anaesthetist stay up to date?

After they obtain their fellowship, anaesthetists continue to update their skills by regularly attending professional sessions. It is mandatory for anaesthetists to participate in a continuing professional development program in order for them to continue to practise. Each year ANZCA runs a series of scientific meetings attended by leading local and international experts, and where new techniques and technology can be presented along with research findings. There are also extensive workshop programs.

ANZCA's Education Development unit provides a range of services to ensure that ANZCA and its Fellows remain at the forefront of innovation and best practice in anaesthesia and pain medicine.