I’m interested in becoming an anaesthetist. I opened the ANZCA Handbook for Training and Accreditation to find out what to do.

In a nutshell – PMET, then IT with IAAC and WBAs including MSF, DOPS, CEX and CbD. CPP and CPR with SoT, BT and the PeX. Keep up the TPS to meet the VOP, and don’t forget the SRAs. AT, FeX and SSUs. Mix in EMAC, EMST, ALS, APLS and CICO along the way. PFT.

FANZCA.

Clear?

084

If not, then I have just the course for you.

What is it?

 The ANZCA Part Zero Course.

It provides an overview on how to become an ANZCA trainee, and what training involves.

 How is it delivered?

 A full-day course with a mixture of lectures and panel discussions. Supervisors of training are available to answer questions in break times.

The middle of the day is split into two streams, one for aspiring trainees and the other for newly-minted trainees.

What is covered?

 The start of the day is focussed on the technicalities of training during the five-year curriculum, complemented by personal insights.

One anaesthetic registrar described resilience as key to his development as an anaesthetist. Having the ability to challenge yourself to take on that intubation after a string of failures, rather than retreating to the comfort of filling out the anaesthetic chart.

I joined the breakaway stream from wannabe trainees, focusing on how to get on to the training program. A few bits of general advice I took away:

  • Dot point your CV. “Paragraphs make my eyes bleed,” to quote one supervisor of training.
  • There is a lean towards information nights as opposed to pre-interviewing. This makes sense, and seems a more equitable way of conducting recruitment.
  • Do your homework on the hospital
  • Be a well-rounded professional. Reflect on your practice.
  • Don’t try to game the preference system. Be honest.

The afternoon session focussed on the welfare of trainees and their families. Partners were encouraged to attend, which was a highlight for me.

While ANZCA trainees are satisfied with their work (73%), 28% were distressed according to K10 scores. Sources of distress included job prospects (71%) and workplace-based assessments (51%) (1).

Only 28% have a regular GP! This explains why 47% self-prescribe medications. For the sake of yourself, your family and your patients, please find a GP that you can stick with.

Finally, one anaesthetist dispelled the stereotype of 99% newspaper reading and 1% crisis. His career appeared to consist mostly of jumping from air, water and land based vehicles to rescue patients mostly from sheer cliff faces. This was speckled with relief missions to Banda Aceh, and other humanitarian work.

The Australian Doctor’s Spouse Network provided a partner’s perspective on anaesthetic training. It really is a team effort. No anaesthetic trainee is an island. This was one of the most valuable talks of the day. My only suggestion would have been to hear from the partner of a female trainee, but that was fed back to the faculty – perhaps next year!

Finally, we were all escorted to the pub.

Cost?

 Zero dollars!

The Verdict

 The Part Zero Course is a valuable experience for those considering the anaesthetic route.

The emphasis on trainee welfare, and the mere existence of a Welfare of Anaesthetists Special Interest Group, gave me the impression of ANZCA as an organisation taking trainee mental health seriously. It is a fine line between trainee wellbeing, and meeting rigorous training standards expected by the community. The Part Zero course is a positive step in the right direction.

For those interested in the next course, ANZCA advertises via their events page, to be found here.

  1. Downey GB, McDonald JM, Downey RG. Welfare of anaesthesia trainees survey. Anaesth Intensive Care. 2017;45(1):73-8. http://www.aaic.net.au/document/?D=20160078
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