School of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine


Head of School: Dr Gary Lear

Programme Manager:  Nicola Robinson

Programme Support Officer: Kate Cockbain

Why choose Anaesthetics?

Anaesthetics and Intensive Care have many selling points: extensive direct clinical care provided to high standards by well-trained consultants, incorporating a wide variety of special interests. The ability to work comfortably and effectively within a range of different clinical teams is important, as is meticulous attention to detail and the maintenance of the highest standards of care.

Work-life balance as a consultant is good, with rotas which, whilst involving considerable direct work with the sickest of patients at all hours, are accommodating in terms of family and social life.

As a trainee in Anaesthetics what can I expect from my training programme?

Despite being one of the largest schools, we have excellent relationships with our trainees and offer them a well organised, enjoyable and interesting training experience in a friendly environment.

The programme directors work with trainees to organize their training in a way that is fair, practical, and interesting. Trainees participate actively in the management of the whole programme. We are very flexible and have a large number of less-than-full-time trainees too (male and female). The School runs regional teaching for both parts of the exam, as well as a variety of other courses (new starters, transfer training). There is a comprehensive appraisal process run by the School, independent of the ARCP/assessment process.

  • 2-year core training is based usually in 3 hospitals (1 for first 12 months, then 2 others).
  • The 3 year core ACCS programme also involves 12 months in Emergency Medicine and Acute Medicine prior to starting anaesthetics.
  • The 5 year higher programme involves time spent at Newcastle, Middlesbrough and a variety of DGH’s. Most trainees spend most of their time in either the “north” or the “south” end of the region to minimise commuting time.

Dual CCT training with Intensive Care Medicine is popular, with programmes designed to fit individuals’ training needs.

What our Anaesthetic trainees say:
There probably isn’t a typical day in Anaesthetics; it is a very varied specialty. At the moment I am doing a block of Pediatric Intensive Care which involves being part of a large team who are looking after critically unwell children.

A day could equally involve attending a chronic pain clinic, providing anesthesia and analgesia on a labour ward, taking calls to review injured or critically unwell patients in the emergency department or providing anesthetics for a variety of surgical specialties. However, a typical Monday or Tuesday is more predictable and involves being at home looking after my two children. I train less than full time, which allows me to achieve a good work life balance!

I enjoy the varied nature of Anaesthetics. I enjoy the fact that when you are anaesthetising a patient you can focus completely on the task in hand compared to working in a ward situation where there can be many competing demands on your time. The theatre and critical care environment has a good team atmosphere. I feel it is a real privilege to be able to do the work that we do. You are often looking after some of the sickest patients in the hospital either in intensive care or in theatre, sometimes in unpredictable circumstances so you have to be able to stay calm, focused and in control in very stressful situations at times.

To anyone considering Anaesthetics I would say that is a great specialty. It is varied, interesting and unpredictable at times.


Why choose Intensive Care Medicine?

ICM is a new and exciting specialty to train in. Encompassing elements of acute care from every specialty in the hospital, ICM clinicians have to have excellent clinical acumen, knowledge, practical skills and the ability to coordinate care across multiple specialties, whilst making informed and often ethically challenging decisions.

No other specialty offers the same diversity of work – from Major Trauma to Obstetric Hemorrhage to an Acute Arrhythmia an intensivist is trained to manage them all.

As a trainee what can I expect from my ICM training programme?

ICM can be taken either as a single or as a dual training programme with another linked acute specialty (eg Acute Internal Medicine, Anesthesia, and Emergency Medicine). The rotation length is between 4 and 8 years depending upon a chosen career path and the core training programme of the trainee.

All trainees will spend some training time in Medicine, Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine between units in the North and South of the region, centered on the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle and The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough. There are also available attachments to the Freeman Hospital Newcastle, North Tyneside and Sunderland.

Our region has been instrumental in supporting and driving change nationally with regards to ICM training.

What our ICM trainees say:

I’m dual certifying in anesthesia and ICM and I just love it.  I couldn’t hope for better people to work with, and it is a real challenge, highly satisfying and brilliant fun.  It’s also hard work and sometimes fairly stressful but there’s always people to help and we’re really well supported.  There are lots of practical skills, the opportunity to see physiology in action and (being impatient) the fairly instant results of some of our therapies.

Each day differs significantly depending on whether I am working in theatre or ICU.  On a critical care day I am on the unit for 0800 and we sit down with the night team and the consultants for the day and handover the intensive care and high dependency units as well as any patients on the wards who need review (usually with a cup of coffee).  Our surgical colleagues visit their patients around 0830 and we meet them on the unit and talk about the plans for the day.  At 0900 we’ll have our formal ward round, usually an hour or two, and then allocate out jobs over a further coffee if there’s time.  We try to get the practical jobs of taking patients to CT scans or inserting lines done as soon as possible as we can’t predict what will happen in A&E or elsewhere that may require our attention.  The afternoons are very variable – there are often families to talk to about how things are going and referrals to see, as well as jobs to chase up from the morning.  If it’s quiet we’ll get some teaching or skills training.  We’ll usually have another quick round to see how the mornings plans are going, and hand over to the evening consultant about five o’clock.  ICU is very much a 24hour specialty, so we have a sit down hand over again for the night team in the evening, wish them a good night, and see them in the morning!

From a training standpoint, the rotation has a lot of different hospitals and the opportunity to see a wide range of practice which I think is vital to balanced training. One of the things I love most about my job is the great colleagues!

I’ve met so many inspirational people who have encouraged me to be the best I can and who have gone the extra mile to be supportive.  For me, the doctor I hope to be is a mixture of all these people who have been important throughout my training.


The purpose of these pages is to provide you with useful training and educational information.



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