One of the runners ups in this year’s BagMask.com Anesthesia Scholarship contest is Nicholas Katz SAA. Nicholas is enrolled at Nova Southeastern University and is scheduled to graduate in August 2021. His winning essay in the 2020 BagMask.com Scholarship Competition has won him a ADC 619 ADSCOPE-lite Stethoscope from Stethoscope.com.
On multiple occasions I have spoken to family members, friends, and strangers who understand anesthesia only to be, “putting someone to sleep.” My typical response includes mentioning that this is only one component of our job, to which I usually employ analogies to further explain our role. I may explain that if that was true, then pilots would only be responsible for “taking off” and nothing else! However, my favorite approach to explaining the role of the anesthetist is to liken it to my life’s other passion: bass guitar.
Often the overlooked member of the band, the bassist has a unique role that offers a surprising number of parallels to the anesthetist. The bassist frequently takes a back seat to the guitarist shredding a solo, or the vocalist going high into his falsetto, right in the center spotlight. Despite this disparity in attention, the performance of the bassist is pivotal to the success of the soloist in the same way that the competence of the anesthetist is vital to the success of the surgeon. If the bassist is removed from this equation, the bottom end drops out, there is no groove to compliment the technical ability of the soloist, and the momentum behind the song is lost. Similarly, without anesthetists being there to monitor our patients, patient safety is completely compromised in that they can become hypoxic, emerge early, or even arrest. By this point, surgery would be unable to take place, or would be without purpose. This is to say that bassists and anesthetists have the same goal: to provide the foundation upon which another highly trained individual interacts with and depends on to be successful.
Another way I have described the role of the anesthetist to someone unfamiliar with the field is as the voice of the patient before, during, and after surgery in times when they are unable to speak for themselves. We take this responsibility seriously, to the point that we have our own separate interview with the patient, wherein we determine their specific needs and accommodations (in the form of comorbidities), and from this information create an individualized plan from pre-op room to recovery room, unique to our patient. Once in the OR, if the patient is cold, the anesthetist is the one who warms them up. If they are dehydrated, it is the anesthetist who gives them fluids, and, most notably, if they are in pain, it is the anesthetist who recognizes this and treats them accordingly.
While the surgeon’s goal is centered around the removal of pathology, the anesthetist’s role is more holistic and additive, combining multiple factors that we ourselves optimize in order to provide the conditions in which a safe surgery can occur. We are with the patient throughout induction, maintenance, and emergence, because a perfect takeoff is pointless without a safe landing, and a great solo cannot happen without a consistent groove behind it.
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