How is life as an anesthesiologist

He sleeps too little, too irregularly and at the wrong times. He does not eat properly and eats too much unhealthy stuff. He works 50 to 60 hours a week. He rarely does any sport and some of his friends are mad because he never has time. He knows how to live healthy. He is a doctor.

Thomas Neumann comes almost straight from the night shift to a conversation in a Schwabing café. He's tired, that's fine, he has just had a quick goulash soup at home. He never slept all night because there is enough to do, even at night.

Neumann is 32 years old and has been training to become a specialist at the Schwabing Hospital for four years. There he is also the strike leader of the Marburger Bund, the union of employed doctors. "Something has to change now," he says, and he would probably sound angry if he were an angry person.

"We are only service providers"

The doctors want to strike five percent more salary and better pay for night and on-call services. However, anyone who speaks to hospital doctors these days is quickly told that the money is not the point - at least not in the sense that they can go to dinner more expensive or the new Saab convertible four months earlier at the door stands: For them, it's about the feeling of not being valued in their work. "We're just service providers," says Thomas Neumann, and then he says that this is not how he, the son of a family of doctors, imagined it when he started his studies eleven years ago.

A typical weekend for a young doctor in the clinic means: more than 40 hours of work from Friday morning to Monday morning. So Thomas Neumann would show up for the normal day shift at 7:30 a.m. and first let the night shift worker tell him how the situation is. His workplace is the anesthetic intensive care unit, the patients there are all grappling with death, 70 percent of them have to be artificially ventilated: skull and brain trauma, those receiving trauma surgery.

The handover takes three quarters of an hour, then the morning examination of all patients begins: neurology, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract - Neumann cannot ask most of the patients how they are today; he must draw the correct conclusions from the examination and his medical knowledge. It usually takes him an hour and a half to do this.

The next item on the agenda is an organizational one: Which patient needs which therapy today? Neumann telephones his colleagues in radiology and angiology, negotiates appointments in the computer tomograph and in the magnetic resonance tomograph. He has to take into account that the examinations can take between 60 minutes and four hours and that the patients have to be brought and fetched. He allows 30 minutes for it.

"Chocolate is in great demand"

It takes just as long for the laboratory phase that now follows: blood is drawn from the patient, which is examined for the oxygen content, for example, to see whether the ventilation is correctly set. Changes in medication are also based on the values ​​determined in the laboratory.

It is now approaching noon, but, as on most days, there will be no break. Two interns and one senior physician work on one shift, and all three are busy. In addition, pushing himself down a fat roast pork at lunchtime would make him sluggish and tired. "Chocolate is in great demand in hospitals," says Neumann, it tastes good, gives off energy quickly - even if only for a short time - and: "Makes you happy." Of course he knows that this diet is not healthy, but: "What should I do."

The rest of the day goes by with office work, routine and acute interventions. From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., the doctors are available for discussions with relatives - a double-edged matter for Thomas Neumann: On the one hand, he has ten minutes for each of these discussions, often too little for people who fear for the life of a close relative To give comfort and confidence. On the other hand, this is often the only time when the doctor feels something like gratitude. Otherwise, the Austrian proverb "Not scolded is praised enough" often applies in the clinic.

On the next page you can read how the work marathon for Thomas Neumann continues after his station duty.