Let me preface my response to the title by saying that I don’t intend to compare anesthesiologists to certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) or anesthesiology assistants (AAs). I haven’t gone through CRNA or AA training, so I can’t provide first hand comparison. That being said, we have our respective roles in the team-based approach to perioperative care due to clearly different tracks. My decision to pursue anesthesiology was made well before I knew about CRNAs and AAs in depth.
The process of becoming a physician is all about exposure and professional maturation. By completing the pre-med prerequisite courses in college and then surviving medical school, I gained an appreciation for a myriad of specialities and skill sets. I spent a large portion of medical school preoccupied with self-reflection and discovery – how did I want to steer my life? Where did I see myself in a year? Five years? Ten years? After all, not all physicians become anesthesiologists.
By rotating through my core rotations as a medical student, I gained a sincere appreciation for the multidisciplinary teamwork inherent to providing quality care. Interviewing patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, presenting patients on general medicine wards, scrubbing in for ten hour long surgeries, practicing the finer points of a focused physical exam, studying for so many shelf exams, learning the advanced pharmacology and physiology associated with various subspecialities… ah I could go on and on. To this day, I rely on knowledge I gained on those rotations to help better understand and care for my patients. Additionally, the “basic science” portion of med school was paramount in teaching me how to learn medicine, be it research, wrought memorization, or understanding complex concepts.
It just so happened that anesthesiology gave me a field where I could apply many of my academic interests and nurture a particular skill set rooted in acute care of the critically ill. My training in medical school, residency, and fellowship has pushed me beyond the scope of anesthesia and fostered my maturation as a pathophysiologist, pharmacologist, intensivist, and diagnostician. I aim to use these skills to go beyond the conventional anesthesia provider/supervisor to fill the role of an academic intensivist with additional training in handling complicated cardiothoracic patients in the operating room. Having gone the physician route will give me unparalleled training and experience in this niche.
I made the decision to become a physician first and then an anesthesiologist.