In response to Steve's post about what clinical psychologists do, I just had to post this hilarious video about what anesthetists do while a patient is sleeping by the Amateur Transplants. The group is composed by two humorous (and real) doctors who I'd rather see on the other side of a microphone than at my bedside.
For bonus laughs, check the singer's pronunciation of 'anesthetist.' If you love these guys as much as I do, check out their equally hilarious "Careless Surgeon."
Just a note: "the white stuff" referred to is propofol, known as "milk of amnesia". I'll leave it to Shelley to explain what it is and how it is used. There is no doubt that she can do a better job than I can.
Not too far off.
Anesthetists are the advocates of the unconscious but most of their work is at the beginning and end of the case. They induce, intubate, and then put a bunch of lines in the patient. Then the patient must be positioned carefully - this is critical, you can do huge amounts of injury by improper positioning of a patient or, perish the thought, letting them fall off the table. But once this is done and the surgery starts they pretty much are taking notes, watching monitors and pushing a little more drug or gas as needed. There are exceptions of course. In open heart procedures anesthesia is pretty intense.
So, yeah, during surgery they tend to be pretty inert, and you can occasionally rely on them to change the radio station.
The pronunciation (and spelling in the titles) of anaesthetist is of course correct in English. Sloppy american corruptions raise more of a groan than a chuckle over here. Just saying..