Health Service Categories and Careers


Anaesthesia translates to ‘a loss of feeling’ or ‘to be numbed.’ Anaesthesia involves different medicines, called anaesthetics, which affect the central nervous system and induce relaxing and numbing effects, or loss of consciousness and memory. These medications are delivered using a variety of techniques and specialised equipment. They have overlapping and specific medical uses and are tailored to meet the needs of the patient and the goals of the medical care. The main role of anaesthesia is in preparing patients for surgery or invasive testing / treatment, by putting them in a state that allows the surgeon/specialist to perform technical and specialised medical procedures painlessly and safely. Anaesthetics is used in pain management, for example, to manage acute pain, perioperative pain, or pain during childbirth. Anaesthesia subspecialties include: Critical Care Anaesthesia, Hospice and Palliative Care Anaesthesia, Pain Medicine Anaesthesia, Paediatric Anaesthesia and Sleep Medicine.

Anaesthesia Jobs

Anaesthetists are specialist doctors who prescribe and administer anaesthetics to patients who are undergoing a surgery or invasive treatment to make them more comfortable and absent from pain. To do this appropriately and safely, Anaesthetists need to understand the endpoints/goals of the medical procedure and undertake a pre-operative risk assessment. The risk assessment involves taking the patient's medical history, performing a physical examination and lab tests. Once the patient is anaesthetised, Anaesthetists stay with the patient to monitor their condition and keep them comfortable and safe throughout the surgery/medical procedure. They then provide post-operative care, helping patients to comfortably recover while monitoring any changes to their health and organ function. Anaesthetists are skilled in airway management, fluid management, venous access, analgesia and resuscitation, and their role often extends beyond peri-operation care to acute and longer-term pain management. In the hospital, Anaesthetists work in the operating room, the labour ward, the intensive care unit, the emergency department, pain clinics, and palliative care units. They frequently work in pairs, collaborate with a range of specialists, and train and support junior doctors. To become an Anaesthetist, registered doctors must complete 2 years (or 104 weeks) of general hospital experience and register for specialist training with Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA). This is a 5-year program, consisting of basic training, advanced training, exams, and provisional Fellowship training, leading to the Diploma of Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (FANZCA) and recognition/registration as a specialist.

Registrars (Anaesthesia or Pain Medicine) are registered medical doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can undertake registrar level training positions - broadening and refining their scope of practice, experience, skills and competency. Registrars in Anaesthesia or Pain Medicine are responsible for keeping patients pain free, immobile, and in a safe state of unconsciousness during complex surgical procedures. They provide anaesthesia and pain management services in the clinical and perioperative environment, preparing patients for surgery and helping them manage acute, traumatic and chronic pain. They gain advanced physiological and pharmacological knowledge and further develop clinical expertise. They work in intensive/critical care and with a variety of patients including geriatric and paediatric patients. They can subspecialise in areas such as airway management, acute pain, critical care in out-of-hospital environments, paediatrics, neuro-anaesthesia, obstetric anaesthesia, or cardiac and vascular anaesthesia. Registrars can work towards specialist qualification/registration in anaesthesia or pain medicine by undertaking the ANZCA training program (5-years). Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff.

Nurses (Anaesthesia/Pain Management) specialise in providing integrated nursing care to patients undergoing anaesthesia and surgery. They inform and support patients, checking for health conditions and filling out documentation. They may be involved in preparing the operating theatre. They assist the anaesthetist to perform clinical anaesthetic procedures such as inserting breathing tubes and intravenous lines and administering anaesthetics, and provide nursing care in the recovery room, including insertion of catheters. They provide nursing care for patients in other acute care, palliative care and pain management settings. They practice peri operative nursing across surgical specialties and effective infection control. They work in multidisciplinary teams with Anaesthetists, surgeons and anaesthetic technicians. They work with both paediatric and adult patients. This field of nursing is practiced in critical care environments, as well as in elective surgery settings, in both hospitals and private clinics. To pursue a career in this field, nurses require completion of a Bachelor of nursing degree or equivalent and AHPRA registration. Some employers request experience and a postgraduate qualification in Peri-Operative Nursing. Similar roles include Nurse (Peri-operative), and Anaesthetic technician.

Anaesthetic Technicians work in the peri operative environment in hospitals and private clinics, across acute care and secondary/tertiary care settings and surgical specialties. They set up and maintain important equipment such as life support machines and other monitoring equipment. They inform and support patients and filling out documentation. They may be involved in preparing the operating theatre and assisting the anaesthetist perform clinical anaesthetic procedures. They monitor patients’ vital signs, decontaminate and sterilise equipment post-operation, and provide care for patients in recovery. Anaesthetic Technicians need to complete a relevant qualification such as the Diploma of Anaesthetic Technology.