The term anesthesiologist refers to a physician who completed an accredited residency program in anesthesiology, usually four years following medical school either with M.D. or D.O. degree. In contrast, the term anesthetist is used for nurse anesthesia providers who have undergone specialized training in anesthesia.
Anesthesiologists (anesthetists in the UK) are physicians who provide medical care to patients in a wide variety of (usually acute) situations. This includes a preoperative evaluation, consultation with the surgical team, creation of a plan for the anaesthesia tailored to each individual patient, airway management, intraoperative life support and provision of pain control, intraoperative diagnostic stabilisation, and proper post-operative management of patients. For anesthesiologists/anaesthetists, preparation of patients for emergency surgery is mandatory and essential. Because anesthesiologists/anaesthetists are physicians, in contrast to other anesthesia providers, they are able to utilize their extensive knowledge of physiology, pharmacology and diseases to guide their decision making.