A pediatric anesthesiologist receives essentially the same training as any other anesthesiologist. The difference is that a pediatric anesthesiologist completes at least one year of additional training in the care of children and infants. In some cases, these professionals complete a few years of additional training before opening or joining a practice. When children need to have an operation, or be put under anesthesia for any other reason, pediatric anesthesiologists are generally present. Some parents may insist that a professional within this specialty care for their child.
One of the most important distinctions between a general anesthesiologist and a pediatric anesthesiologist is that these pediatric specialists understand the technical, physiological, and emotional differences between treating adults and children. When treating children, there are special considerations to be made concerning types and sizes of equipment to be used in the operating room. Pediatric anesthesiologists are also more familiar with the different respiratory and cardiac systems of children. This usually makes them better qualified to provide treatment to people under the age of 18.
As a general rule, a pediatric anesthesiologist is the best person qualified to properly evaluate the various medical problems that may occur with children who require some form of anesthesia. These professionals are also able to plan the safest anesthetic for each child they deal with. Pediatricians and general surgeons are not usually the ones who make these determinations.
In order to become a pediatric anesthesiologist, a person must first go through four years of medical school to become a general physician. This is followed by one year as an intern, and three years as a resident in anesthesiology. Once this aspect of their education has been completed, physicians then receive specialty training in pediatric anesthesiology. In the U.S., after physicians have met all of these requirements, they may receive certification from the American Board of Anesthesiologists.
These doctors are generally responsible for more than administering anesthesia during surgical procedures. They may also determine the care and planning that are necessary for children after a surgical procedure has been completed. They are also usually quite adept at talking to children in a soothing manner that helps to create a non-threatening environment in the operating room.
When necessary, a pediatric anesthesiologist may prescribe pain control for children after surgery. In addition, they routinely provide sedation or anesthesia for procedures that occur outside of the operating room. These procedures may include CT scans, radiation therapy, or an MRI.