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Anaesthesia Profile


Keith Clayton


Consultant Anaesthetist, Honorary Senior Lecturer University of Warwick

Chairman, Hospital Transfusion Committee


Walsgrave Hospital and Cov&Warwick Hospital

What does a typical day consist of for you?

Monday – arrive C&W at about 7.50am to see patients and set up for an early start. Work continuously doing a joint revision and a primary joint. Aim to finish at about 5.00pm with no lunch break. Usually old, not very fit patients, who can require up to 10 units of blood.

Tuesday – lecturing at the Medical School

Wednesday – arrive at C&W about 8.00am for an ophthalmic list – old patients, local anaesthetic blocks. Usually finish at 12.00 noon. Afternoon supporting session – preparing lectures, paperwork etc

Thursday – arrive Walsgrave 7.45am to see morning and afternoon patients. Breast surgery in the morning and vascular surgery in the afternoon. Fit patients in the morning and sick patients in the afternoon. Invasive monitoring with spinal opiates for pain relief in the afternoon.

Friday – supporting sessions – usually paperwork regarding the Hospital Transfusion Committee of which I am Chairman.

Scattered throughout the week are postgraduate lectures, in-house lectures for nurses, interviewing etc

What are the pros and cons of your job?

Our on call commitment on the general rota is about 1 in 20 which is extremely civilised. You pick on call days which are convenient to you – four Mondays and a weekend for example. You get to work in teams which develop over the years. You can change your sessions over the years – I did ten years of obstetric anaesthesia before changing my sessions around. It gives you the ability to have a new job every few years. There are opportunities to work in ITU , chronic pain, acute pain, neuro, cardiac, paediatrics – the choices are endless. The opportunity to teach and develop other skills is always encouraged within the department. Disadvantages – none that I can think of as long as you like a challenge and are not afraid of hard work.

What personal qualities do you think are essential for working in your specialty?

Knowledgeable, team player, good communicator, dextrous, extrovert.

Leadership qualities develop over the years

What areas can you further specialise into within your specialty?

Intensive care for those who like acute medicine

Chronic pain for those who like out patients (with a hint of psychology) and practical procedures

Trauma for those who like to pretend they are in ER

Cardiac, neuro, upper and lower GIT surgery and vascular anaesthesia for those who like sick patients needing invasive monitoring and excellent pain relief.

Day case surgery for those who like fit patients

Orthopaedics, urology for those who like elderly patients

Then there is management, teaching, risk management, audit and legal/ethical issues.

What other specialties do feel complement a career in this specialty by giving similar or useful additional experience?

Prior to entry into anaesthesia it is positive to do one year in medicine, paeds/neonates, ITU or A&E (or combinations). Once into training you will rotate through all the sub-specialities and then develop your chosen sub-speciality in the last two years of training.

What would you recommend students, who are interested in your specialty, to do for their student selected components (SSCs)/elective/work experience/part-time work to gain additional insight?

Whenever you are doing a surgical attachment come into the anaesthetic room and follow the patient through the complete episode – anaesthetic room, theatre and recovery. Your insight into patient care will improve. In terms of electives and work experience just enjoy yourself and see life because it is the ability to talk to patients, inform and reassure them, that is essential. Work with the elderly – appreciate their problems and fears. If you are set on a career in anaesthetics do not bother with an F2 job – go for a complimentary speciality.

How much “out of hours” work is required in your specialty?

SHO – usually 1 in 4 or 5. 100% supervision for the first three to six months. Specialist registrar similar 1 in 4 or 5 rota on call. Once at consultant level the on call rotas vary with sub-speciality and hospital. Anywhere from 1 in 8 to 1 in 25. Flexible training is available to both male and females (if you have a valid reason) and families and anaesthesia do go very well together.