One of the runners ups in this year’s BagMask.com Scholarship contest is Marsia Baver SRNA! Marisa is enrolled at University of Pennsylvania and is scheduled to graduate in 2023. Her winning essay in the 2020 BagMask.com Scholarship Competition has her a ADC 619 ADSCOPE-lite Stethoscope from Stethoscope.com.
According to Greek mythology, Hypnos, the God of sleep, and his child Morpheus, the God of dreams, became known as the Gods of anesthesia. Although Hypnos represents the field of anesthesia, his brother Thanatos represents death. These ancient figures represent the relationship between sleep, anesthesia, and death that anesthetists intimately understand. Like a delicate walk on a tightrope, the anesthetist maintains the balance between a peaceful sleep and gentle waking, or an eternal death. Unbeknownst to the patient, the anesthetist holds the balancing pole, guiding them swiftly and safely across the rope. It is up to the patient, blindfolded and terrified, to hold the hand of the one who guides them across safely and strategically. The anesthetist must confidently lead the patient as they take their first step, until they wake through emergence, unscathed.
Sleep is a relative term. Defined by Merriam-Webster as “the natural, easily reversible periodic state of many living things that is marked by the absence of wakefulness and by loss of consciousness.” Anesthesia is by contrast an unnatural state, and often difficult to reverse. It is a state of controlled temporary loss of consciousness and paralysis that has been medically induced. Often during sleep, loud sounds and other stimuli can wake one into consciousness, however reversal of anesthesia can only be performed by the most skilled professional. It may appear that anesthetized patients are asleep to the untrained eye, but trained professionals know otherwise.
The anesthetist becomes one with the patient. Not only do they act flawlessly in coordination with surgical team to make procedures possible, they also act as the “eyes and ears” of the patient to bring them through surgery unharmed. The patient cannot speak for themselves while under anesthesia, therefore the anesthetist is attuned to picking up subtle cues from the human body. The heart rate spikes- more sedation is needed. Too many twitches on the train of four-paralytic is needed. Blood pressure rises- treatment for pain is indicated. The airway is managed, breath flows into the patient’s lungs, their heart is kept pumping and blood in their veins kept circulating. The anesthetist practices tight medication control, ventilation and monitoring.
All of these interventions miraculously executed by a team of one. On an inpatient unit, these interventions would be performed independently, each delegated to a member of the care team such as an intensivist, a bedside nurse, nursing assistant, respiratory therapist, pharmacist, the list goes on. The anesthetist is a jack of all trades, able to act as an entire team of medical professionals to keep the patient alive and well. Although it may seem as if the role of the anesthetist is to “put people to sleep”, without their watchful eye, the patient would not be heard among the silence- their heart could stop beating, their lungs could be devoid of precious oxygen, a life could be lost in the balance. Thank God for the guardians who walk the tightrope and bring them to the other side.
BagMask.com’s Upcoming 2020 Fall Anesthesia Scholarship Information
We’re already working on our next scholarship and are excited to try a new format! Look for more information about the next one sometime this fall, and be sure to follow us on social media and join our mailing list so you can keep up to date on future Scholarship information and other great Anesthesia Career Resources!
Eligibility for Upcoming Scholarship Entries
- Anesthesia Resident
- Anesthesia Fellow
- Fourth year Medical Student that has matched to anesthesia