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Are Anesthesiologists Failed Surgeons?

Discussion in 'Hangout' started by Jambalaya, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Jambalaya
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    by Jambalaya » Feb 17, 2015
    I was at a hospital the other day for one of my elderly relatives and I overheard a junior doctor chatting with a nurse about different specialties. His opinion of anesthetics was that the people who specialize in that area are failed surgeons.

    This struck me extraordinarily unkind. Anesthesiologists have just as much training as surgeons, I think? And they are a key part of surgery, aren't they?

    I mean, I don't know anything about medical things but I was under the impression that anesthesiologists are just as highly trained and respected as surgeons.

    Why would the junior doctor say something so mean about the people who keep you pain-free? I just thought it was quite upsetting to hear a member of such a dedicated profession maligning a group of fellow doctors. :confused:
     
    


    


  2. momhappy
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    by momhappy » Feb 17, 2015
    It was one opinion. I wouldn't find a single opinion too horribly upsetting. I doubt that's the general consensus among medical professionals. I have lots of friends in the medical profession and I've never heard that before, but I will admit that I am not all that familiar with any politics that might go in within the profession.
     
  3. maccers
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    by maccers » Feb 17, 2015
    Don't let it bother you - medical professionals say all kinds of things about other subsets; I've always had the impressions that there's little rivalries between certain professionals (not just doctors either).

    Completely anecdotal of course but my neighbour is a resident anesthesiologist. She's definitely not a 'failed surgeon', in fact, she never wanted to be a surgeon, she wanted a medical profession that gave her a lot of flexibility.
     
  4. TooPatient
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    by TooPatient » Feb 17, 2015
    I know what you mean about doctors saying uneducated opinions about other medical professionals within hearing of patients. Very unprofessional.

    We have a friend who is an anesthesiologist and I (briefly) considered going into that field. They are not "failed surgeons" in the slightest. The education they have is very impressive. Plus requirements for years of hands on training stuff.
    I don't remember where I found the details, but a Google search should be easy to find them.
     
    


    


  5. fiona00004
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    by fiona00004 » Feb 17, 2015
    In my neck of the woods, anaesthesiologists are very well respected and highly regarded doctors...it surprises me to hear of such comments.

    Honestly, in any type of profession or in the work field in general, I think there is always one department the belittles other departments...either directly or indirectly. These types of people should be told that it isn't mature to insults other disciplines and each professional has their own expertise....

    I work in the medical field and to me, each discipline has its role to play. In fact, I find myself defending my colleagues in other disciplines because I find their roles underrated sometimes....

    I feel like doctors are often put on a pedestal but in reality, they are human beings with a variety of personalities and opinions and not all of them act professionally or are kind. It boggles my mind to meet or hear of a doctor who isn't "people oriented"...who lack respect when interacting with other people...whether it is their patients or peer colleagues...
     
  6. Jambalaya
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    by Jambalaya » Feb 17, 2015
    Thanks everyone for contributing your thoughts. I feel a little better now. But yes, I was surprised.

    An old friend of mine from high school became an anesthesiologist, and she was very kind and caring. So I was a little upset on her behalf.
     
  7. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Feb 17, 2015
    Jealousy. There are certain perks to being an anesthesiologist once one has accomplished his (arduous) training. Often one can call the shots about his hours, for example. I have a very good friend who is an anesthesiologist. He became a board certified internist first and a board certified anesthesiologist second. Later, when a sub-specialty of pain management was introduced, he qualified for that and became board certified in that as well. He has said that he would not let just anyone give him anesthesia, and I have always been very cautious about where I have had my own surgery done. When missy had to have orthopedic surgery done I urged her to have it done at HSS because the anesthesiologists there are trained for the surgeries done there and never use general anesthesia unless it is necessary. Anesthesia is a vital part of any surgery and errors in anesthesia can lead to mortality just as surgical errors and infection can. I hope that this "junior doctor" does some growing up before he is let loose to practice unsupervised on the public!

    Deb/AGBF
    :read:
     
  8. Jambalaya
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    by Jambalaya » Feb 17, 2015
    Yeah, me too!
     
  9. Karl_K
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    by Karl_K » Feb 17, 2015
    I have heard similar working on computers in doctors offices about many different specialties.
    It is ego talk, my group is the best and everyone else is inferior.
    The Anesthesiologists has a bigger part in if you survive an operation than almost anyone else involved.
    For simple surgeries even more so than the surgeon.

    When I had a bad reaction to one of the anesthesia gases when having my elbow surgery I am very glad that I had a very experienced and very skilled Anesthesiologists working on me.
    One of the gases triggered a very bad asthma attack and things went south from there.
     
  10. NTave
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    by NTave » Feb 17, 2015
    I would assume that that medical resident wanted to be a surgeon and nothing more;-)
     
    


    


  11. anne_h
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    by anne_h » Feb 17, 2015
    I worked in medical imaging technology and in that sphere the stereotype was that radiologists are anti-social and don't like to see patients (because most of the work is reading films and there *is* often little patient interaction). Personally, I felt there was sometimes an undercurrent of jealously from non-rads that radiologists get paid so well and often have standard office hours.

    I will agree with the others - everyone wants to think their career is the best. It's a human thing, not a doctor thing.

    BTW, my career is the best. KIDDING! :)

    Anne
     
  12. icekid
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    by icekid » Feb 17, 2015
    What?! I could say a lot of nasty things about surgeons, but will not because I am a professional :cheeky:


    I am an anesthesiologist and assure you, never did I have any desire (nor fail) to be a surgeon. Anesthesiology residency is 4 years; general surgery is 5. Both specialties may have additional fellowship training. I completed my training at one of the most famous hospitals in the world.

    As karl mentioned, we keep you ALIVE, safe, and comfortable while your surgeon commits assault and battery against you. All while the surgeon steals all of the glory. Fortunately, most anesthesiologists do not need the adoration of their patients to know that they are doing significant work. Having a competent anesthesiologist is critically important.
     
  13. Tacori E-ring
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    by Tacori E-ring » Feb 17, 2015
    My dad had no interest becoming a surgeon. Sounds like an ignorant comment. He actually went to medical school to be a shrink and came out an anesthesiologist.
     
  14. caf
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    by caf » Feb 17, 2015
    I am not an anesthesiologist but I think the anesthesiologist is as important or more so than the surgeon. I want to wake up from my surgery. The anesthesiologist is the one who makes sure I do. And the anesthesiologist is the one I trusted to give me an epidural when I gave birth. I have found anesthesiologists to be wonderful doctors. Sounds like whomever was commenting was misguided.
     
  15. missy
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    by missy » Feb 18, 2015
    Totally agree! It sounds like jealousy on the part of that surgeon who was making those disparaging and unwarranted comments. How unprofessional and shame on him.

    Thank goodness for my anesthesiologist when I had my surgery this past July. As Deb wrote HSS was amazing and part of that amazing experience was due to my anesthesiologist. He was so wonderful. Before the surgery he came into the prep room I was waiting in and took my hand and told me I was going to be just fine and that he would take care of me. He calmed me more than anyone at that time. He was true to his word and got me through the long surgery perfectly and after the surgery while I was in the hospital for 4 days he was there for me too.

    My cousin is an anesthesiologist and one of the smartest and most skilled people I know. Let me tell you if anesthesiologists weren't as smart and capable as they are we would all (those of us undergoing surgery) be in a lot of trouble. I hope the profession continues to attract the best and the brightest.
     
    


    


  16. momhappy
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    by momhappy » Feb 18, 2015
    There's really no way to know why the junior doc said what he said. Maybe it was his personal experience with anesthesiologists, maybe it was jealousy, maybe it was just hospital politics…. I suppose that it's entirely possible that there actually are anesthesiologists who are failed surgeons, but making generalized statements about is probably not fair (and likely untrue).
     
  17. Jambalaya
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    by Jambalaya » Feb 18, 2015
    Thanks everyone!

    My guess is that, as a junior doctor, he'd been given a hard time by someone who happened to be in anesthesia and was blowing off steam.
     
  18. ckrickett
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    by ckrickett » Feb 18, 2015
    I wouldn't let it bother you. However I have a tremendous respect for anesthesiology. The knowledge they have to possess in order to do their job properly and safely is extraordinary!
     
  19. TechieTechie
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    by TechieTechie » Feb 19, 2015
    Unfortunately, many doctors, particularly young ones, are unnecessarily competitive...I think because they spend their lives competing..for their MCAT test scores, medical school admissions, residency placement, surviving residency (mandated 'weed out cuts' in some programs', medical board tests to become a doctor, repeat the boards every 10 years. Couple this with a history of overwork to 'weed out the weak' (internship/residency) and a male dominated culture....and you can guess how we get to mean, spiteful competition in a lot of docs.

    There is often a disdain, particularly for the less enlightened, for the ROAD specialties (Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesia, Dermatology)...they often have better work-life balance, but some other specialties look down on them due to the nature of their work (potentially less complex or stressful tasks) while getting great pay and hours.

    http://yalemedicine.yale.edu/autumn2007/features/feature/51534

    But this is all in the eye of the beholder. Me, I think anesthesiologists that can successfully manage patients thru surgery with minimal drugs and a successful outcome are a true partner to surgeons. Going 'completely under' is the easy way out on many surgeries. I had to really push for my ACL replacement to be done without the gas (due to my life threatening allergy to aspirin and morphine sensitivity) but it was managed successfully with a combination of an epidural and conscious sedation...thanks to a great anesthesiologist.
     
  20. Zarina
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    by Zarina » Feb 22, 2015
    After recently undergoing surgery to remove a malignant melanoma, I would just like to say that I am MOST grateful for the knowledgeable and professional anesthesiologist that attended me for this operation. A big THANK YOU to doctors like icekid :appl: for keeping us safe and asleep :)
     
  21. diamondseeker2006
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    by diamondseeker2006 » Feb 23, 2015
    Thankfully many/most? doctors are compassionate professionals and were drawn to their speciality for personal reasons. But let's face it, there are a few arrogant jerks in every profession.
     
  22. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Feb 23, 2015
    Also: psychoanalysts believe that different specialties are ideally filled by candidates with different character traits. They believe, for example, that surgeons have to have a certain amount of sadism in their characters. One would not want a surgeon to be feeling unduly empathic as he cut away a malignant tumor. If one had cancer he would want to be operated on by a surgeon eager to go after every piece of offending tissue!

    I am not making this up. The original psychoanalysts in the United States who wrote about this topic at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute were all medical doctors. Whether or not you agree with them, their theory did not have its origins in prejudice against the medical profession!

    AGBF
    :read:
     
  23. diamondseeker2006
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    by diamondseeker2006 » Feb 23, 2015
    Very interesting, Deb!!! I can see that, but I certainly think it is true that there are great surgeons without that character trait! (I've known a few who were not, in fact!)

    I generally do not like narcissistic people and that is what comes to mind when I hear of someone making a statement like the original statement in the thread.
     
  24. Zizzy
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    by Zizzy » Feb 24, 2015
    I don't know about the USA, but in the UK, anaesthetists are not only responsible for sedating and supporting patients during surgery; they are responsible for all pain management and it is specialist anaesthetists who run/direct intensive care units. Theirs is a fast moving field.

    I am a big fan. The anaesthetists I have encountered have shone as being the most humane physicians: sympathetic as well as extraordinarily competent. They work with people at the extremity of pain and distress.

    I think TV and film is responsible for the fascination for the "brilliant" but often "maverick" or "difficult" surgeon. TV stereotypes do make me laugh, surgeons must always be blunt, even brusque, but really have the patients' best interests at heart. Anaesthetists just don't have the same dramatic potential in the eyes of writers.
     
  25. missy
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    by missy » Feb 24, 2015
    Agree completely-also a big fan. At HSS my anesthesiologist was also the head of my pain management team (we get pain management teams at HSS) and so responsive and empathetic and amazing in every way. He spent plenty of time just talking with me and was never in a rush. He could not have been more attentive to my pain needs. I cannot say enough good things about him.
     
  26. Alex T
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    by Alex T » Feb 26, 2015
    I'm with Zizzy. Here in the UK it's an extremely highly regarded position. They are fully responsible for the patients welfare whilst the surgeon does his thing. The surgeon doesn't need to be bothered about the patient per se when he/she is performing complex surgery. They get their heads down & concentrate, and indeed will ask the anesthetists at certain points if they are safe to proceed. They are also paid on a similar level to surgeons.

    When I went knocking on Heaven's door during my second C-section delivery (I have blood issues) it was the gorgeous anesthetist who got me through, not the surgeon. I know this because they both came to my room the next day to see how I was & explain what had happened. They were definitely a co-dependant team & I salute them :appl:
     
  27. Tekate
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    by Tekate » Feb 26, 2015
    Without a good anesthesiologist one will die.. it's well paid, but I would think that it's more for the physician who likes to work with numbers and can stand pressure (although I am sure they ALL have pressure they are all pretty well paid too). Much of the work in an operation does fall on the nurse anesthetist I think.
     
  28. AGBF
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    by AGBF » Feb 27, 2015
    I don't have a clue what it takes to be an anesthesiologist, so your comment on "working with numbers" interested me. The friend about whom I wrote above (anesthesiologist now specializing in pain management) happened to have been a math major when he was an undergraduate and, at one point, he thought he might become an architect or an engineer. He truly loved/loves math. :))

    AGBF
     
  29. Dandi
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    by Dandi » Mar 1, 2015
    I work in the OR, and that comment could not be further from the truth. I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but here in Aus, anaesthesia takes 14 years of studying medicine, and is a most highly regarded profession. Was it a light hearted, throw away comment? I've heard surgeons taking the mickey out of their anaesthetic colleagues about pursuing anaesthetics because they never made it as surgeons, but it's purely facetious. Anaesthetists are the highest paid workers in the country, on average just more than surgeons. Plus they are the ones keeping you alive during surgery, so they're kind of important :cheeky: Anaesthetists just don't want to be surgeons!
     
  30. pregcurious
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    by pregcurious » Mar 4, 2015
    It is a highly regarded specialty in the US. I think surgery and anesthesia are two very different things, and I've never heard of a someone wanting to do one and ending up with the other.
     

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