Anesthesia: What is that?

The medical layman can often imagine little under the term anaesthesia. In our following topic, we would like to bring the concept of anaesthesia a little closer.

Synonyms in a broader sense

English: anaesthesia

  • General anaesthesia
  • Anesthesia
  • Anaesthesia
  • Pain therapy
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Intensive care

Definition of terms

The specialist in anaesthesiology is generally referred to as an anaesthetist or anaesthesiologist. This suggests that anaesthesiology is limited to anaesthesia (sedation). However, anaesthesia, i.e. narcosis, is only one part of anaesthesiology. It also includes: intensive care, pain therapy and emergency medicine


Training as a specialist in “Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine” requires a completed medical degree and includes five years of further training in the fields of anaesthesia, intensive care, emergency medicine and pain therapy. In the field of anaesthesia there are various possibilities for professional activity. In addition to the anaesthetists, a so-called anaesthesia technical assistant, or ATA for short, is required for the smooth running of every operation.

This profession can be learned through appropriate training, which usually lasts three years. In order to be able to start an apprenticeship you need at least the secondary school leaving certificate. It can also be helpful to complete a practical training in anaesthesia before applying for training as an anaesthesia technical assistant.

You can gather first impressions of the job description, exchange ideas with colleagues and then see if you feel that this training is suitable for you. The training is school-based, which means that many units of theoretical instruction take place in an educational institution. In addition, practical instruction is also provided in a clinical facility, where you learn to apply the knowledge you have acquired and are supervised by ready-made anaesthesia assistants.

In addition to numerous intermediate examinations, the training course ends with a theoretical and a practical final examination. The range of tasks of anaesthesia assistants includes the care and supervision of patients before and/or after their surgery. This included, among other things, the application of pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs and ECG electrodes, which provide parameters of the patient that must be observed during an operation.

In addition, it is part of their duties to individually select and prepare all the anaesthetics and painkillers required for the upcoming operation, as well as to ensure that they are replenished. They also help with intubation by providing the material and giving it to the anaesthetist. Anaesthesia assistants also sterilize used instruments, such as a spatula for intubation. Thus, in addition to the typical operating room with the patient’s entry and exit into and out of the operating room, this job can also be carried out in the recovery room, in the sterilization room and in a practice with outpatient procedures. Since a shift system determines the working hours in the clinical operation, a high degree of flexibility is required of the trainees, both in terms of working hours and cooperation with changing colleagues and surgical requirements.