How to Begin a Professional Career as a Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists: A Quick Look
Median Salary$431,977 per annum
Entry-level educationDoctoral/Professional Degree
On-the-job trainingResidency
Primary employersPhysicians’ Offices
Number of positions (U.S.)691,400
Job Growth (2012-2022)18% (Faster than national average)
New positions (2012-2022)+123,300

How to Begin a Professional Career as a AnesthesiologistWhat Does An Anesthesiologist Do?

An anesthesiologist is a physician who specializes in Anesthesia. Anesthesiologists may specialize in developing anesthetic plans, perioperative care, and administering anesthetics. They minimize patient pain and ensure their safety during surgery.

Salary

The median annual salary for anesthesiologists in the United States is $431,977.

Becoming An Anesthesiologist

In order to become an anesthesiologist, individuals must complete an undergraduate degree, including completion of pre-requisite pre-med coursework, complete 4 years of medical school, complete 4 years of residency in anesthesia, and gain licensure. You can learn How to Begin a Professional Career as a Anesthesiologist here.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for anesthesiologists is very good, with a projected 18% job growth rate from 2012-2022.

Anesthesiologist Salary

How much do anesthesiologists make? The median anesthesiologist salary is $431,977 a year. Salary varies primarily with experience and location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all Physicians (or Doctores) in private physician offices earned an annual mean salary of $220,942, while Physicians in hospitals earned an annual mean salary of $166,210.

How To Become An Anesthesiologist

How long does it take to become an anesthesiologist? It can take 12 to 14 years to be ready to take the certification exams.

Educational Requirements

Undergraduate Degree

There are four stages to an anesthesiologist’s education. The first stage is getting a four-year Bachelor’s degree. This degree is usually in the sciences, with a pre-med focus that meets pre-requisite coursework in math, biology, chemistry and physics. After completing this degree, aspiring anesthesiologists will have to take and pass the Medical College Exam (MCAT), and gain acceptance to medical school.

Medical School

The second stage in anesthesiologist schooling is medical school. These four years will include two years of classroom lessons on fields such as surgery, pharmacy, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology and cardiology. The second two years will be centered on gaining clinical experience.

Anesthesiology Residency

The third step in becoming an anesthesiologist is a doctor’s residency. Most anesthesiology residency programs last 4 years with the first year being a rotation of clinical experience in general medical areas, such as internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and surgery. The next three years will usually be spent focusing completely on anesthesiology.

Fellowship

Residency is often followed by a one or two year fellowship program in an anesthesiology sub-specialty like neurosurgery, cardio-thoracic surgery, pediatrics or dentistry.

Certification & Licensing

Upon complete of all schooling and residency, doctors will need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam to be licensed in the state they plan to practice in. Each state’s medical licensing board sets its own rules and regulations. Results of the USMLE are reported to these boards for use in granting a license to practice medicine. Future doctors should contact the state board in their perspective state to determine its requirements. Next they will need to pass exams by either the American Society of Anesthesiologists or from the American Board of Anesthesiology to receive their certification. This certification is specialty specific and consists of two parts. The first part is a written exam the tests the doctor’s knowledge of the basic and clinical science of anesthesiology. The second part is an oral exam that presents the doctor with different possible situations and rates how the candidate explains how they would treat their patient.

Continuing Education

After certification, the anesthesiologist has to complete a 10-year cycle that requires them to complete a program of continuing education. They have to show they have maintained their skills in the following areas: medical knowledge; patient care; practice-based learning and improvement; professionalism; interpersonal and communication skills; and system-based practice. They must also take an exam that tests their knowledge of anesthesiology.

Anesthesiologist Job Description

What does an anesthesiologist do? An anesthesiologist is a highly trained physician who specializes in pain management and sedation. They care for patients in many different settings, from emergency rooms to operating rooms, nursing homes to health care clinics – anesthesiologists provide medication to meet each patients’ need. They provide pain control to critically injured patients or ones that have just had surgery. They help with medical emergency care for patient with heart attacks and trauma victims. Anesthesiologists administer a variety of pain-killing agents from localized shots for numbing a specific area, to gases and intravenous drugs that render a patient unconscious. The anesthesiologist is also responsible for monitoring unconscious patients to make sure they do not wake up during surgery and have no harmful reactions to the drugs. During the course of a hospital shift, the anesthesiologist will interact with other doctors, nurses, patients, family members, emergency medical personnel, administrative personnel and other hospital personnel. While anesthesiologists work primarily in hospitals, anesthesiologists who elect to specialize in pain management are more likely to work in a health care clinic than a hospital. They employ a range of shots, pain blockers, and other medicines to help patients with chronic pain. These doctors help patients with acute pain due to an injury, disease or other chronic problem, like neck or back pain, or migraines.

Duties

An anesthesiologist has a wide range of duties, including but not limited to:
  • Monitoring their patient before, during, and after anesthesia in administered
  • Counteracting any adverse reactions or complications to anesthesia
  • Making note of the type and amount of anesthesia administered and the patient’s condition throughout the procedure
  • In an emergency room setting, they provide and manage life support measures and help patients prepare for any necessary emergency surgery
  • Administering anesthetic during medical procedures using local, intravenous, spinal or epidural methods
  • Examining patients, obtaining medical histories, to determine any risks during any medical procedure
  • Ordering diagnostic tests, like blood work, x-rays or other tests
  • Placing and situating patients on the operating table to make sure they are comfortable and accessible during surgery
  • Coordinating the administering of anesthesia with the surgical staff during the operation
  • Evaluating and deciding when the patient has recovered or stabilized enough to be moved to another room or ward, or sent home after outpatient surgery
  • Coordinating with other medical personnel to determine what type of anesthesia would be best and how best to administer it to be the most effect way to sedate a patient

Alternative Job Titles

  • Anesthesia associate
  • Anesthesia director
  • Anesthesia resident
  • Attending anesthesiologist
  • Obstetrical anesthesiologist
  • Physician anesthesiologist
  • Staff anesthesiologist
  • Staff anesthetist

Job Outlook

The job outlook for all anesthesiologists and surgeons looks very good, with employment opportunities for surgeons expected to trend upward until at least 2022. The number of jobs for physicians and surgeons is expected to grow by 18% in this time period, well above the national average of 11%. Growth will be driven primarily by an aging population that will drive demand for medical services.

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Posted in Glossary of Careers, Medical and Health Professions

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