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Why this matters:

From learning a patient’s medical history through surgery and post-op pain management, administering anesthetic and sedatives before, during, and after medical procedures is a primary function for many anesthesiologists. The candidate should be able to clearly outline the basic process — without missing crucial steps.

What to listen for:

  • Clear knowledge of technique for administering sedatives and anesthetics
  • A strong approach to collaborating with the attending physician
  • Mention of crucial steps, such as checking for potential allergies

Why this matters:

It is imperative for anesthesiologists to be able to consistently determine whether patients are stable and responding well to anesthesia. It’s also important that they understand how to ensure patient safety, and that they are knowledgeable about how to monitor a patient before, during, and after surgery.

What to listen for:

  • A careful plan to ensure patient safety, from intake to post-surgery
  • A clear approach for monitoring patients as they regain consciousness
  • The ability to confirm stability during and after surgery takes place

Why this matters:

There are many different types of anesthesia, and an anesthesiologist needs to know the differences and when to use each, so that they can act quickly under pressure. They should be able to speak comfortably to patients and surgeons about their preferred methods, the varying methods, and the benefits of each.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of inhalation, caudal, local, and intravenous anesthetic methods
  • Understanding of different types of surgery and the varying methods they require
  • Knowledge of an anesthesiologist’s role in determining what type of anesthetic should be used

 

Why this matters:

All surgeries are inherently risky — especially those involving high-risk patients. Anesthesiologists need to be prepared for anything, including life-threatening emergencies. In the event that a patient’s life is at risk during surgery, anesthesiologists should follow clear protocol — and act quickly, calmly, and decisively.

What to listen for:

  • Prior experience with unexpectedly high-risk medical procedures
  • A clear protocol for dealing with surgical life-or-death situations
  • The ability to make effective decisions even while under extreme pressure

Why this matters:

Physician anesthesiologists are often the last people that patients speak to before they go under for surgery. So it’s helpful if they can have a calming influence on patients who are understandably nervous. An ideal candidate might have a ready line to share to put their more anxious patients at ease.

What to listen for:

  • A strong sense of empathy in interpersonal communication
  • Comfort dealing with anxious or otherwise uncomfortable patients
  • Experience with successfully having a calming effect on others in a stressful situation

Why this matters:

In a high-stakes environment such as a surgery room, it’s important that the physician anesthesiologist approaches their work with both confidence and a sense of humbleness. It’s best if they can acknowledge their mistakes, and also be willing to take the time to understand how they can prevent future errors and oversight.

What to listen for:

  • Comfort with admitting mistakes that have been made in their past
  • A readiness to hold themselves accountable and learn from their mistakes
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills and leadership qualities

Why this matters:

Under the stress of impending surgery, any patient can act in a way that’s resistant or uncooperative, or even downright angry, hostile, or argumentative. It’s useful for physician anesthesiologists to navigate these emotions with empathy, strong interpersonal skills, and unwavering professionalism.

What to listen for:

  • A sense of compassion and understanding for why a patient might be challenging
  • Patience for unpredictable situations and a prioritization of providing the best care
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills

 

Why this matters:

Nurses, attending surgeons, and other staff all count on the anesthesiologist to confidently and clearly communicate their pain management plan to everyone in the operating room. It’s imperative for any anesthesiologist to have strong leadership and communication skills, and a collaborative approach to teamwork.

 

What to listen for:

  • Comfort and flexibility in relating with all coworkers
  • A plan for strong communication of steps in a procedure from start to finish
  • A thorough understanding and commitment to the leadership aspect of their role

Why this matters:

It’s important for anesthesiologists to know when to express their views — and when to exercise professional deference, especially if they disagree with another physician, a second (or third) opinion, or a patient. It’s also important to know when and how to express the views of the organization they represent, rather than their own.

What to listen for:

  • Respect for varying viewpoints of patients and medical professionals
  • Prioritization of professionalism in approaching patient care
  • A tactful and confident approach to navigating difficult conversations
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