Edited by Phillip O. Bridenbaugh, M.D. Hagerstown, Maryland, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010. Pages: 192. Price: $162.00.

“International medicine” is a term that covers a wide range of physician involvement. It encompasses many areas of practice, as well as far-reaching services—from providing training to local medical resources to directly providing care to underserved communities.

I have been involved in various aspects of international medicine for a number of years. One of the most challenging aspects of getting involved in this field is the lack of information. There have been no comprehensive resources to help individuals identify projects in international medicine that have been successfully completed versus  those that are ongoing. Neither has there been a reliable resource to assist in identifying practitioners in my field, anesthesia, who are involved in such efforts. Because I became involved in international medicine largely through trial and error, I see an important place for Role of Anesthesiologists in Global Health: Underserved Areas of the World . It serves as a guide for anesthesiologists who aspire to take on a role in international medicine.

The book is composed of a series of articles by the leading figures in anesthesia today. The first article, “The Role of the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists in Global Anesthesia,” describes the significant role that this society has played in developing standards for anesthetic care worldwide. A number of additional articles address the methodology, complications, and results of international anesthesia education programs, including: “Anesthesia Teaching in Ghana: A 10-yr Experience,”“Pediatric Anesthesia Fellowship Programs Established Through the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists (WFSA): Origins and Perspectives,”“Teaching Non-physician Anesthesia Providers in Tanzania: A Movement Toward Sustainable Healthcare Development,”“Rwandan Anesthesia Residence Program: A Model of North-South Educational Partnership,” and “Multidisciplinary Team Partnerships to Improve Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes: The Kybele Experience.” These articles highlight both the successes and shortcomings of each program, providing a realistic vision of their respective impacts.

Two articles, “Successful Volunteering—Matching the Anesthesia Volunteer and the Aid Organization” and “Role of the Anesthesiologists in Global Health: Can One Volunteer Make a Difference,” are particularly useful to the anesthesiologist just beginning to explore international medical volunteer opportunities. The articles provide two perspectives on the various considerations in choosing volunteer opportunities, including practical considerations such as the length of commitment and out-of-pocket costs. Both articles emphasize that even one anesthesiologist can make a difference in global medicine—whether in the life of individual patients or in a broader, more systemic manner.

Significantly, the book addresses in great detail the importance of the role of the anesthesiologist in improving health at the international level. It encourages readers to explore volunteer opportunities by providing a framework of knowledge with respect to what other anesthesiologists have accomplished, as well as the tremendous need that exists for further development and improvement.

Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. gfuzaylov@partners.org.