How To Become An Anesthesiologist
Career Video: Anesthesiologist
Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who administer anesthesia before surgeries. Anesthesia is medicine that sedates patients while a surgeon performs a medical procedure. Anesthesia can also be used to block nerves, so a medical procedure can occur without putting the patient under. They are responsible for providing safe and effective care to the patients, monitoring their vital signs before, during, and after sedation.
Anesthesiologists also work as supervisors for nurse anesthetists and assistants. Sometimes, an operation requires an entire anesthesiology team, and they can play different roles within this team. They also work closely with other medical personnel to determine the best course of action for each individual patient. Each patient has unique needs and every procedure requires different care.
Anesthesiologists interview and review patient medical histories to determine which medicine to administer. They also determine how and when to administer, and which dose will be most effective for that patient. Depending on the surgery, they may have to administer drugs during a procedure or make adjustments. After surgery, they provide guidance to patients and caregivers about the anesthesia’s effects and how to manage pain.
Because the role of an anesthesiologist is crucial in patient survival and comfort, they must have certain skills:
- Excellent communication (speaking, listening, and writing)
- Works well under intense pressure
- Detail oriented
- Physical dexterity and coordination
- Knowledgeable of medicines, procedures, and physiology
- Cooperative with team members
- Capable of using a variety of medical devices and methods
- Quickly adapts to serious changes
Why Become An Anesthesiologist
Anesthesiologists have an incredibly dangerous job. They determine and provide care that puts patients under during surgery, and they are responsible for their waking up safely. The affects of anesthesiology can be deadly, so it is imperative that an anesthesiologist be effectively trained and prepared for this role. Without anesthesiologists, many life-saving and altering surgeries could not happen.
Pain management is also an essential part of anesthesiology. Not only do they provide instruction for aftercare, but they can also inject local anesthesia to a body part so a patient won’t have to go under. One of the most popular examples of this is providing epidurals to women delivering babies. These women cannot go to sleep during this process, yet many desire pain management from medicine. Epidurals can provide these women with a more comfortable experience, while keeping both the women and babies safe.
Anesthesiologist Work Environment
Anesthesiologists can work in a variety of places and with many different types of patients. Some work with outpatient surgeons, providing local anesthesia to block pain. Such patients may require care for injured joints or muscles. Others provide care for patients with more serious problems, such as heart disease, cancer, weakened immune issues, or obesity. Some anesthesiologists work with children (pediatrics), while others may work with the elderly (geriatrics).
Different locations of employment can include physicians’ offices, dentists’ offices, hospitals, outpatient centers, pain management clinics, labor and delivery departments, intensive care units (ICU), and specialty centers. Anesthesiologists can also work as professors and researchers at hospitals, or colleges and universities.
These individuals can expect to work fulltime. They can work any shift, and may often be on call. They must be available to provide care all the time, whenever a medical need arises. They can work on weekends, during holidays, or for longs shifts.
The average yearly salary of an anesthesiologist is $269,600. Wages vary with industry, experience, and geographic location. Anesthesiologists who work as professors or researchers can expect to earn the least amount of salary at an average of $170,500 per year. This role is followed by doctors who work in general hospitals, offices of other health care practitioners, and specialty centers. Individuals who seek the highest level of compensation should work for outpatient care centers and physicians’ offices.
The highest paying jobs exist in West Virginia, Oregon, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and New Hampshire. Metropolitan areas can provide the most work for anesthesiologists, typically with high levels of compensation.
Anesthesiologist Career Outlook
The career outlook for anesthesiologists looks good. This occupation is expected to grow 21 percent in by 2024. The medical field will need more anesthesiologists as medicine advances. Surgeons are conducting more procedures now that once were too difficult or impossible. Patients will require life changing operations. They will require pain management. They will require a level of care that keeps them comfortable. Anesthesia is an essential part of modern life, and there will always be opportunities for employment and high levels of compensation.
Anesthesiologists must earn a medical degree and complete four additional years as an anesthesiology resident.
Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree. It is a requirement to have a bachelor’s degree before entering medical school. Enrolling in a pre-med program is the best path to choose. It is recommended to take courses in science and math, including biology, chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, and calculus.
Step 2: Enroll in medical school. There are two paths to choose from for a medical degree. You can become a medical doctor (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.). Training is similar for these two options. Allopathic doctors (M.D.s) use medicine to treat and heal patients, while osteopathic doctors (D.O.s) take a “whole” patient approach and try to find ways for the body to heal itself through various methods.
A traditional medical degree consists of taking classes in medical imaging, anatomy, biochemistry, biotechnology, neuroscience, physiology, psychology, and more. Osteopathic doctors will take additional courses to learn about musculoskeletal issues and treatments (osteopathic manipulative treatment, OMT).
Step 3: Complete a residency. After medical school, doctors must choose a specialty and complete a four-year residency. A residency will consist of supervised practice and courses to support additional learning. Residents are doctors who must work under direct supervision, and they receive a small salary as they train.
A residency in anesthesiology will consist of general anesthesiology and practice in a sub-specialty: critical care, obstetrics, cardiovascular, pediatrics, neuroanesthesia, pain management, research, etc. A residency is typically followed by a one-year fellowship, which will immerse you in more complex cases and study.
Step 4: Earn licensure and certification. Anesthesiologists must become licensed in their particular state to practice medicine. Eligible residents can take the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) examination for board certification.
Doctors are also required to continue education through their career to keep their licenses. One of the best ways to continue education is through certification training. There are a number of other certifications provided through the ABA, such as Critical Care Medicine, Pain Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Sleep Medicine, and Pediatric Anesthesiology.