Considering a career in anaesthesia?

Anaesthesia is one of the most rewarding and fascinating fields of medicine you can specialise in as a medical graduate. It’s a diverse and dynamic discipline, offering a wide range of research and sub-specialist study opportunities.

What makes a good anaesthetist?

Anaesthetists are among the most highly regarded and intensively trained specialist doctors on the planet. In Australia and New Zealand, we study for a minimum of 12 years to gain the advanced physiological and pharmacological knowledge we need to keep patients pain free, immobile, and in a carefully controlled state of unconsciousness during complex surgery.

But clinical expertise is only part of being a good anaesthetist. Compassion, confidence, cultural competency, and clarity of mind are also integral to anaesthesia practice. Many of our fellows are engaged in voluntary work in low- and middle middle-income countries; Indigenous health programs; rural and remote communities; and even conflict zones.

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What's so special about the ANZCA training program?

ANZCA is the only organisation accredited by the AMC and the MCNZ to provide training, assessment, and the continuing professional development of anaesthetists Australia and New Zealand. Our anaesthesia training program is one of the most rigorous and highly regarded in the world, and takes a minimum of five years to complete.

Delivered entirely through supervised clinical placements in ANZCA-accredited training sites, it provides comprehensive training for all clinical environments and contexts, including foundation knowledge and skills for sub-specialised areas of practice.

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What's so great about anaesthesia?

Anaesthesia is one of the most important innovations in modern medicine. Many of the operations we take for granted today – especially on the very young; very old; or very ill – would be impossible without it. It’s a diverse and dynamic discipline, offering a wide range of research and sub-specialist study opportunities.

Anaesthesia is central to the perioperative care of surgical patients, and plays a major role in:

  • Resuscitation.
  • Intensive care.
  • Pain management.
  • Retrieval.
  • Disaster response.
  • Hyperbaric medicine.


Anaesthesia is also one of the most progressive medical specialties in terms of diversity and inclusion. It has a long history of leading change; welcoming women to train as specialist doctors decades ahead of many other specialties.

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How does the college support doctors?

We’re proud of our profession’s place in history as a progressive, innovative, and inclusive specialty, and we work hard to honour and build on that legacy. We believe that all forms of discrimination are unacceptable, and can negatively affect the health and wellbeing of our trainees, fellows, staff, and the wider community.

Healthy doctors ensure a sustainable workforce that provides best patient care. Find out what we're doing to support our doctors' health and wellbeing, and the services and resources available to our fellows, trainees, specialist international medical graduates and immediate family members.

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So, is anaesthesia the specialty for you?

Being an anaesthetist is one of the most challenging career paths you can chose as a specialist-in-training. You’ll need to study for a minimum of five years; successfully complete two exams and commit to undertaking continuing professional development in your final (provisional fellowship) year. You’ll need to be able to work under intense pressure and as part of a seamless team; think on your feet; and make split-second decisions. But if you have what it takes, the rewards are considerable.

Anaesthetists are some of the most highly regarded – and remunerated  – specialist doctors in Australia and New Zealand, and have access to excellent sub-specialist career opportunities, including our groundbreaking pain medicine training program; diploma in diving and hyperbaric medicine; and, from 2023, a formal perioperative medicine qualification.

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Last updated 14:36 3.06.2022