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How To Become an Anesthesiologist: Steps and Salaries
Learn how to become an anesthesiologist, what an anesthesiologist does, the average salary of an anesthesiologist and get answers to frequently asked questions.
How To Become an Anesthesiologist: Steps and Salaries
By Indeed Editorial Team
October 4, 2021
Anesthesiologists play an important role in the surgery process and are responsible for administering anesthesia and monitoring vital signs throughout a medical procedure. Becoming an anesthesiologist requires several years of education and training. In this article, we discuss what an anesthesiologist does, the average salary of an anesthesiologist and the steps to take to pursue this career path.
What is an anesthesiologist?
An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the medical field of anesthesiology. An anesthesiologist may hold either a Doctor Osteopathic Medicine (DO) Degree or a Doctor of Medicine (MD). These medical professionals have been specially trained to use anesthesia on patients before and during various medical procedures and surgeries.
The anesthetics that an anesthesiologist uses vary greatly and may include mild numbing agents to general anesthesia. Anesthesiologists work as a team with other medical professionals including doctors, surgeons, surgical technologists and nurses.
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Anesthesiologists must be extensively trained in not only anesthetics but also pharmacology, physiology and other areas that directly relate to administering anesthesia to patients and monitoring them throughout surgery.
They must know how to monitor a patient's blood pressure, airways and respiration rates, as well as their pulmonary and cardiovascular health throughout a medical procedure. Should any of these areas falter, an anesthesiologist must know how to resuscitate the patient or use other means to ensure the patient is returned to health.
Related: Learn About Being a Doctor
What does an anesthesiologist do?
Anesthesiologists play a vital role before, during and after a surgical procedure. The following are duties that an anesthesiologist may perform:
Anesthesiologists work with patients before surgery to ensure they are suited for surgery and are able to handle anesthesia. These doctors will extensively review your medical history as well as answer any questions you may have about the anesthetic process related to your medical procedure. They will then administer the anesthesia before the surgery and begin monitoring your vital signs.
An anesthesiologist will monitor a patient throughout the entirety of a surgery to manage pain and keep vital signs in check. They will also manage any chronic medical conditions that a patient may have, such as asthma or diabetes, throughout the surgery. If a problem arises during the medical procedure, the anesthesiologist will oversee the management of this as well.
Once the surgery is complete, the anesthesiologist will continue to oversee the recovery of the patient immediately following the procedure. The physician will monitor a patient's recovery from the anesthetic effects and inform the medical team when a patient is able to go home or be moved within the hospital. They may also help to create a plan to manage a patient's pain once they are discharged.
While many anesthesiologists work in a surgical setting, some choose to specialize in the treatment and management of chronic pain. In this case, an anesthesiologist may treat patients suffering from fibromyalgia, migraines or other chronic conditions that cause pain to a person on a regular basis.
Read more: Learn About Being an Anesthesiologist
The average salary of an anesthesiologist
The average salary of an anesthesiologist in the United States is $343,412 per year. Several factors can affect an anesthesiologist's salary, including geographic location, training, experience and place of work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, anesthesiologists have one of the highest-paying occupations in the nation.
Related: 12 Healthcare Jobs That Pay Well
How to become an anesthesiologist
There are several steps that a person must take to become an anesthesiologist. To become an anesthesiologist you typically need to:
Get a bachelor's degree.
Study and pass the MCAT.
Graduate from medical school.
Take and pass the USMLE.
Complete a residency program.
Become state licensed.
Get board certified.
1. Get a bachelor's degree
Aspiring anesthesiologists must first obtain a bachelor's degree before they can begin medical training. Most individuals choose to get a bachelor's degree in the field of biology, natural sciences or a related concentration. In order to be a successful medical school candidate, students must perform exceptionally well in undergraduate school. The American Medical Association (AMA) states that students with a GPA that range from 3.5 to 4.0 will be the most likely to be accepted into medical school programs.
2. Study and pass the MCAT
Students typically begin studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before graduating from an undergrad program. This test is required to be admitted to medical school. Individuals must receive a passing score in all areas of the MCAT, with higher scores giving students a better chance of getting into more medical schools.
3. Graduate from medical school
Aspiring anesthesiologists must complete a four-year medical school program. This program covers the major areas of medicine and prepares students for a residency and career in anesthetics.
How to Become an Anesthesiologist
Learn how to become an anesthesiologist by pursuing education, residency, and certification requirements.
How to Become an Anesthesiologist
BY TBS STAFF April 14, 2022
Are you ready to discover your college program?
What is Anesthesiologist?
Anesthesiology requires years of education and training, but practitioners often build rewarding careers spent helping people.
Anesthesiologists help patients manage pain through medications, especially during and after surgical procedures. Successful anesthesiologists must be experts in the field of pharmacology, which is the study of the human body's response to certain drugs.
This page explores the skills, training, and experience required to become an anesthesiologist. It also includes an interview from an anesthesiologist who explains the ins and outs of a typical day in this profession. Finally, this guide also covers compensation rates for the field.
What Do Anesthesiologists Do?
Anesthesiologists are physicians who specialize in sensation and pain management. They typically administer and monitor local, regional, or general anesthesia or sedation before, during, or after medical procedures, like surgery. Other responsibilities include creating patient-specific care plans, monitoring patient vital signs during medical procedures, and supporting patients through recovery.
There are many anesthesiological techniques, with local, regional, general, and epidural anesthesiology being the most common. Full sedation is usually provided for patients undergoing major procedures, like joint replacement or open heart surgery, while regional anesthesia is typically provided for childbirth and surgeries of the extremities or the abdomen.
Depending on the technique, anesthesiologists may use tools like masks or needles, along with monitors to track patient vitals. Anesthesiologists typically work alongside surgeons, nurse anesthetists, and other doctors.
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Where Do Anesthesiologists Work?
Anesthesiologists typically work in hospitals, clinics, private offices, and ambulatory care facilities, both rural and urban.
An anesthesiologist's schedule varies considerably, even across similar settings. Some private practices offer traditional Monday-Friday hours, but most anesthesiologists work 40-60 hours per week, either on-call or on rotational, night, and weekend shifts. Anesthesiologists can also work in universities, training the next generation of professionals.
Prospective anesthesiologists need to be dedicated and detail-oriented. They also need to work well under pressure and have excellent problem-solving skills. Because patient satisfaction with anesthesia is a key measure of quality healthcare, anesthesiologists also need strong interpersonal and communication skills.
How to Become an Anesthesiologist
Becoming an anesthesiologist involves several stages of training, each described in detail below. In general, anesthesiologists must complete a four-year bachelors' degree, a four-year medical degree, and four years of residency. Next, they must pass the national Board exam, complete a fellowship program or spend two years in private practice, acquire certification, and take a licensing exam.
Once licensed, all anesthesiologists must regularly complete continuing education courses to maintain and update their skills.
Physicians who specialize in anesthesiology begin their academic careers with an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, typically majoring in pre-med or science. They take courses in biology, calculus, chemistry, and physics, which all prepare students for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and medical school.
However, most medical schools do not require applicants to take these courses nor have a bachelor's degree in any of these subjects for admission. Successful physicians could have undergraduate degrees in any number of subjects, including anthropology, English, or pre-law. Instead, MCAT scores are the main determining factor.
The MCAT is required for admission to medical school. Along with evaluating candidates' analytical skills, it tests their knowledge of biology, chemistry, psychology, and sociology. With MCAT scores in hand, prospective anesthesiologists can apply to medical school, where they must earn either a doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).
At the end of two years of coursework, students take a test called Step 1 — often referred to as "Boards." Boards are required by the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for MDs and by the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA) for DOs to obtain a medical license and practice medicine.
After the Boards, anesthesiology students must complete two years of clinical training, working with patients suffering a variety of ailments under the supervision of an experienced physician.
Clinical training concludes with the Step 2 test, which has two parts: a written test on internal medicine, gynecology, preventive medicine, and surgery; and an assessment of clinical skills, including communication and interpersonal skills and proficiency in English.
How Long Does It Take To Become An Anesthesiologist? – Forbes Advisor
Becoming an anesthesiologist can require extensive schooling and training. Learn more about the path to become an anesthesiologist here.
How Long Does It Take To Become An Anesthesiologist?
Kat Tretina, Alicia Hahn
Published: Apr 12, 2022, 4:05pm
Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.
Becoming an anesthesiologist is a long process that requires a significant amount of education and training. The hard work can be worth it though, as anesthesiologists play a crucial role in the healthcare system and are some of the highest-paid medical professionals.
How long does it take to become an anesthesiologist? After high school, it can take 12 to 15 years to earn the necessary degrees and complete a residency before you can become a licensed and certified anesthesiologist.
What Does an Anesthesiologist Do?
An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor that specializes in anesthesia. These professionals are often present during surgical procedures in a hospital.
If a patient is scheduled for surgery, an anesthesiologist will be part of their care team. The anesthesiologist is responsible for administering the appropriate amount of anesthesia to minimize pain and discomfort while ensuring the patient’s vitals are strong. After the procedure is over, the anesthesiologist monitors the patient during their recovery and provides pain management care.
Although anesthesiologists are most commonly associated with surgeries, they can also care for patients managing chronic pain or recovering from injuries. They often work in medical or surgical hospitals, as well as general physician offices.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Anesthesiologist?
In order to become an anesthesiologist, students undergo a long period of study and training. On average, it takes 12 to 15 years to become an anesthesiologist. Below is a general outline of what is involved in that timeframe.Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: The first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in any field of study. While you don’t need to major in science or math, many students who go on to become anesthesiologists choose a pre-med track. You can earn a bachelor’s degree in four years.Attend Medical School: After completing an undergraduate studies, you will then need to attend medical school. Medical school usually takes four years to complete.Complete a Residency: An anesthesiology residency program — where medical school graduates get hands-on education and training in a clinical setting — is typically four years long.Get a License: Before an anesthesiologist can practice medicine, they must be licensed in their state of employment. To qualify for a license, individuals must meet state education and residency requirements and pass certification from the United States Medical Licensing Examination.Secure a Fellowship: Although fellowships are optional, many students who want to become anesthesiologists pursue them to specialize in a specific area, such as pediatric anesthesia or critical care medicine. Fellowships can take one to two years to complete and may require additional certification.Earn Your Certification: Anesthesiologists aren’t required to be certified, but many choose to pursue certification to show parents they uphold the highest standards of care. To earn certification, students must pass oral and written exams. After earning certification, students have to complete continuing education credits and pay the necessary fees for recertification.
What Affects the Length of Your Training?
Although you can complete the requirements to become an anesthesiologist in as little as 12 years, it may take longer for some individuals. The following factors can affect your timeline:Bachelor’s Degree Completion Time: Although a bachelor’s degree is meant to be completed within four years, many students take significantly longer. The Education Data Initiative reported that just 41% of college students will earn their bachelor’s degree in four years. Changing majors, enrolling part-time or other challenges may affect the amount of time spent in school.Medical School Program Combinations: Traditionally, students complete a four-year bachelor’s degree and then spend four years in medical school. There are some hybrid programs; however, that combine a bachelor’s degree and medical school, allowing students to complete school in less time. For example, the University of Florida’s Medical Honors Program is a combined, accelerated program that allows students to earn a bachelor’s of science degree and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) in just seven years.Fellowship: Fellowships are optional, but many anesthesiologists decide to complete a fellowship to become a specialist in a particular area of anesthesiology. Depending on the program and specialty, fellowships can add one to two years of training to your timeline.
Other Anesthesiology Careers
How long does it take to become an anesthesiologist? Now that you know the answer, you may be exploring other options.
If 12 to 15 years of school and training is too long of a timeframe for your goals, you may consider a different career. If you’re interested in the field of anesthesiology, there are other career options that require significantly less time in school: