Novice Guide

Published: 13/08/2019

Welcome to anaesthesia and the RCoA

Welcome to Anaesthesia and the Royal College of Anaesthetists

If you are reading this you are likely to have made the decision to embark on a career in anaesthesia. Congratulations! 

Your seven years of training (eight if ACCS) will prepare you for a career that is both exciting and challenging in equal measure. There are very few patients who pass through their hospital stay without requiring the expertise of a doctor training in anaesthesia as anaesthetists form the largest single hospital medical specialty in the NHS. 

In addition to providing anaesthesia to those in need, anaesthetists' key responsibilities also include:

  • pre-operative preparation and pre-habilitation of patients prior to surgery
  • intra-operative and post-operative care
  • resuscitation and stabilisation of patients in the emergency department
  • pain relief in labour and obstetric anaesthesia
  • regional anaesthesia
  • intensive care medicine
  • pain medicine
  • transport of acutely ill and injured patients
  • pre-hospital emergency care.  

Your first few months will be spent acclimatising to life in theatres and learning the basics of delivering anaesthetic care whilst working alongside a diverse multidisciplinary team of professionals. You will then progress through three stages of training, over seven years (full time equivalent), encompassing the breadth and depth of the practice of anaesthesia. Throughout this time you will be supported and guided by a dedicated team of trainers. Over a number of years the specialty of anaesthesia has developed a reputation for excellence in training. You will spend a significant amount of your training time doubled up in theatre with a consultant, senior trainee or specialist.  This creates a supportive learning environment that many specialties struggle to replicate. 

As a Royal College we are also proud of the network of trainers we support in all 4 nations. These include Educational and Clinical Supervisors, College Tutors and Regional Advisers and, through HEE , Training Programme Directors and Heads of Schools. Throughout your training there will always be someone nearby who can help. The common theme throughout your career in anaesthesia should always be ‘if in doubt ask....’

We hope you find this Novice Guide/Guide to Starting Training in Anaesthesia useful. We hope it will provide you both with the important information to get started and point you in the right direction of other useful sources of guidance. As a College we work closely with the Association of Anaesthetists, the Faculties of Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Medicine, The Intercollegiate Committee for ACCS Training and many other Specialist Societies who focus on specific areas of anaesthetic practice and development. You will find links to their websites contained within this guide. 

Once again can we offer you our congratulations for choosing a career in anaesthesia. Please do use this guide and the wider College as a resource, we are here to help.