Anesthesiologist Skills

An anesthesiologist must be able to stay calm under intense pressure.

An anesthesiologist must be able to stay calm under intense pressure.

An anesthesiologist has patients' lives in her hands every day. She puts patients in a controlled state of unconsciousness using anesthesia -- a delicate procedure that requires intense concentration and quick calculations. Being an anesthesiologist requires an aptitude for math and science, empathy for patients, the perseverance to get through four years of medical school and four years of residency, as well as the self-confidence to lead a team in the operating room.

Attention to Detail

Anesthesiology is a highly complex job that requires constant attentiveness. Missing even a small detail could cost a patient his life. Administering the wrong dosage could cause a patient to feel pain when he shouldn't, or even become conscious during surgery. An anesthesiologist needs to pay attention to the details in a patient's medical records before surgery and to a patient's vital signs and the slightest deviations during surgery. After surgery, attention to detail is still needed as she closely observes a patient's recovery and watches for signs that something might be wrong.

Communication Skills

An anesthesiologist must be a strong communicator with effective people skills. She needs to help patients understand her role and feel more comfortable with undergoing surgery. In fact, the anesthesiologist only has a few minutes before surgery to connect with her patient and help the patient feel confident that he will survive the surgery.


The job of an anesthesiologist can be very stressful; it is imperative that she stay calm under pressure. Sometimes things can go wrong unexpectedly and the anesthesiologist must stay calm so she can assess the situation, make calculations and decide what changes need to be made in the patient's anesthesia medication. She does not have the luxury of panicking when a patient's life is on the line. Some people react negatively in stressful situations, so the anesthesiologist should be able to stay calm even if another doctor snaps at her during an operation.

Problem Solving Ability

Being a natural leader and problem solver help an anesthesiologist perform at the best of her abilities. She needs to review information and make final, authoritative decisions about treatment despite whatever else is going on around her. The anesthesiologist needs to communicate these decisions to the surgeons, doctors and any other specialists who are in the room with her during an operation. She needs to be able to oversee an anesthesia care team during the surgery, which usually consists of nurse anesthetists and resident physicians in training. The anesthesiologist should be able to delegate tasks to her team during surgery while maintaining responsibility for the patient's care.

Quick-Thinking Skills

To be a good anesthesiologist, a person needs to have quick-thinking skills. She should have a strong grasp of the human body and how it functions, along with the ability to do math in her head. She may need to make last-minute mathematical calculations during an emergency situation. She also needs to be able to quickly assess and calculate biological, chemical and physical factors that go into how different amounts of medicine may interact with the body. It is essential that the anesthesiologist be able to do all this efficiently and without any delay, as time may be of the essence.

About the Author

With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

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