New research just out in the journal Psychology and Aging says pessimists live longer and healthier lives. If this is true, then contemplating the future of anesthesiology ought to make us immortal, because our professional prospects don’t look bright. As we teach residents to do what we’ve always done, shouldn’t we ask ourselves honestly if we’re training them for a future that doesn’t exist?
Especially here in California, it seems likely that our predominantly MD-provided, fee-for-service practice of anesthesiology will not survive indefinitely, and perhaps not for long. We can blame the reelection of President Obama and the passage of the Affordable Care Act if we like, but the reality is that market forces were eventually going to catch up with us whether or not Mitt Romney went to the White House.
In a way, we’re the victims of our own success; we’ve made anesthesia so safe that everyone thinks there’s nothing to it. But that’s exactly the point. Technology has indeed made anesthesia much safer. When I started learning anesthesia, pulse oximetry and end-tidal CO2 monitoring were new to the market, unproven, and scarce. Now they’re everywhere. We fear the difficult airway less now that we have video laryngoscopes readily at hand.
Since technology is so much better, why do so many of us still believe that every case requires the costly expertise of a board-certified anesthesiologist? Read the Full Article