With a few exceptions, anesthetists and pilots share many similarities.
Beyond the comparisons of the two professions in terms of the work done, like getting a person to sleep/”taking-off” and waking a person up/ “landing”,
it seems like anesthesia and aviation draws people with similar personality traits.
(See this  interesting article  and this one  and this one to get a start on the whole idea.)
Anesthetists and Pilots come in all manner of shape, size, color, gender, religion and smarts.
Clearly, we are leaders with different traits.
Personality-wise, while some are big-hearted and extroverted and can tell a good joke on a dime,
others are introverted, analytical and focus on data and facts.
Similarly, many, like me, are the “git-er-done” type.
We can see the “big picture” and yet still focus on the efficiency of the task at hand.
As people, anesthetists and pilots have professional lives that are different, however,
I think there are similar traits
among anesthetists and pilots that call us to these two particular professions.
Sometimes I remind myself of how I manage risk when giving  anesthesia and how it is similar piloting a plane.
I wonder what it is about my personality that makes me or others a good anesthetist and/or pilot.
I wonder why I was attracted to two professions that greet many people with fear.
For the sake of time and because I’m not up to the task of putting this little blurb together brilliantly today, I’m going to just list out my random thoughts as they are…    Please feel free to chime in and add your own.  This little piece is a work in progress…


ANESTHETISTS AND PILOTS  – Where we are similar.


Love what we do.

Are the cool science geeks. We love to know “how things works”.

Tend to be good communicators thereby help teams work well together.

We are leaders – At “the head of the table” and “the flight deck”.

Are disciplined and mentally have a “Make it happen” attitude.

Are risk mitigators. We are highly safety conscious thus we follow rules, however we also know when to break them.

Pre-op patient assessments = Pre-flight checks (weather, etc.)

Anesthetic plans with alternates = Flight plans with alternates.

We calculate everything…. even if it’s just a rough idea. We combine science with the art of what we do.

Our goal is boredom in each and every case/flight, therefore, no surprises!   We have experienced hours of boredom and minutes of terror.

Buuuuuttttt, we always remain calm…..no one ever sees our fear – including us. (We take time to reflect on things like that later…)

Pre-incision “Time-Out”  is like the Pre-flight briefing – take off and departure plans.

Induction phases I & II of anesthesia = the Take-off and Climb phases of flight

Maintenance phase III of anesthesia = the Cruise phase

Emergence phase = Descent and Landing.

We systematically scan everything. We have situational awareness and manage and weight many variables.

Compression stockings for long cases/flights…  just the ladies? Idk.



Anesthetists talk about “Depth” of anesthesia (like in the ocean) whereas  Altitude would be like how “high” a patient is.

Anesthetists are usually stuck in cold, windowless rooms instead of looking out at a glorious horizon

Anesthetists wear “pajamas” to work.

Pilots are buried with their mistakes.