Background and Goal of Study: ‘What makes a good Anaesthetist?’ A question often asked at anaesthetic interviews, yet one which has no published data for its response. Anaesthetists make up the single largest specialty in the U.K. National Health Service and play a critical part in its running. In view of the range of situations and social interactions that anaesthetists find themselves in, working in this specialty requires a variety of knowledge, skills and attributes including an understanding of not only medicine, surgery and technical equipment, but also communication and interpersonal skills. With the diverse nature of the job in mind, this survey explores the views of anaesthetists in a London teaching hospital when asked the question ‘What makes a good Anaesthetist?’
Materials and Methods: We surveyed 50 anaesthetists of all grades at our hospital. Participants were asked to rank, out of 34 choices, the five most important attributes that an anaesthetist requires. They were also encouraged to add other attributes as they saw fit. The 250 responses made were analysed.
Results and Discussion: There was no concensus. The top five most popular answers were, (in order of importance with percentage of responses); 1) Keeping calm under pressure (12.4%) 2) Clinical judgement (12.0%) 3) Clinical knowledge (11.6%) 4) Communication skills (10.0%) 5) Attention to detail (8.8%)
Conclusion(s): This survey highlights the divided opinion as to what makes a good anaesthetist. 29 different attributes were listed among the respondents' top five. Whilst some attributes feature more regularly than others, such as “keeping calm under pressure” and “clinical knowledge”, others hypothesised by us to be important are less so, such as “low morbidity and mortality.” The survey has generated much discussion amongst our colleagues. Whilst it would also be interesting to see if the above results are applicable to other European or international countries, we have instigated further work into the subject, as we pose the same question to others from the multidisciplinary team including medics and surgeons. No doubt their responses will prove fascinating and insightful.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the department of anaesthesia at UCLH for help with this survey.