What is a Trainee Anaesthetist?
Anaesthetists in New Zealand are among the most highly trained in the world. After six years of Medical School they are required to work at least a further two years as doctors in the hospital system.
After completing eight years, two of these as a qualified medical doctor, they eligible to apply for the Anaesthesia Training scheme. Most trainees will have worked as Emergency Doctors or in any number of other specialties before applying for the Training Scheme.
Selection for the scheme is very competitive and the role is highly sought after. Training is at least five years of full time work and includes two sets of exams; each typically requires at least 1000 hours of study. This will be on top of full time work averaging 50-65 hours per week.
At any time during this five year course the doctor is known as a Trainee Anaesthetist. In the hospital system in New Zealand they will be in the role of an Anaesthetic Senior House Officer (SHO) for the first year, and then as an Anaesthetic Registrar until fully qualified. At times a final year trainee may have the title of ‘Fellow’ while doing more subspecialty training.
Anaesthetic Registrars have at least three years as a doctor, but usually many more. They will work under the direct supervision of a fully qualified Consultant Anaesthetist until they achieve a certain level of competency. As they become more capable they are allowed more autonomy, though senior back-up is always close. This is the usual situation for most of the medical specialties in New Zealand.
During their five years of training the trainee is rotated to time anaesthetising every surgical specialty, as well as being exposed to all areas of medicine. Within the hospital they are among the most expert doctors at resuscitation. In rural hospitals they will be called to any emergency in the hospital. At larger hospitals they may be called to those emergencies requiring advanced airway support or anything that may require urgent surgery. They are skilled in all aspects involved in the stabilisation of acutely unwell patients and time training in Anaesthesia is generally necessary for all doctors working in Retrieval Medicine (Flying Doctors), Intensive Care or Emergency Medicine.
NZSA Trainee Membership
Trainees are warmly encouraged to join the NZSA, a member-based organisation that promotes continuing medical education and research, and represents the professional interests of anaesthetists. Trainee membership is free. The NZSA Trainee Representative and Deputy Trainee Representative sit on the NZSA Executive Committee and promote the interests of trainees. The NZSA Trainee Representative meets regularly with the ANZCA Trainee Committees (at NZ and Australian levels) and has frequent and close communication with GASACT, the trainee arm of our sister organisation, the Australian Society of Anaesthetists.
Links to Training Resources are here.