General Information on Anesthesiologists
As the population grows and ages, and as advances and expansions in healthcare allow people to live longer and healthier, the need for anesthesiologists will only increase. In fact, the field of anesthesiology, and medicine as a whole, is expected to grow faster than many other career areas. Consumers demanding the highest level of care coupled with the latest technologies will further drive growth in this field.
What is an Anesthesiologist?
Job Description and Responsibilities
In general, an anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who cares for a patient before, during and immediately following a surgical or medical procedure by administering appropriate anesthesia and monitoring the patient for reactions and complications, and to ensure comfort and manage pain.
An anesthesiologist meets with the patient prior to the procedure to evaluate the patient's condition and review their medical history. The anesthesiologist also explains the process so the patient knows what to expect. During the procedure, the anesthesiologist carefully monitors the patient's vital signs and comfort and makes the appropriate adjustments in anesthesia. Following the procedure, the anesthesiologist continues to monitor the patient's vitals and may be involved in management of pain.
Working in Anesthesiology
An anesthesiologist's job description is not limited to a traditional surgical setting in a hospital or medical center. Today, anesthesiologists have many options available to them, including work in dental offices, outpatient surgical centers, labor and delivery units (administering epidural), pain management clinics, critical and intensive care units (stabilizing a patient's condition), teaching and research.
Many anesthesiologists report an extreme sense of satisfaction with the profession. They are able to become intimately involved in the care of patients and are instrumental in relieving pain and restoring health. Anesthesiologists can experience a high level of social interaction with patients and their families, and enjoy a great degree of camaraderie with their partners on the medical team.
Becoming an Anesthesiologist
Even before entering college, those interested in a career in anesthesiology need to think about the kinds of classes taken in high school. Classes with a math and science concentration certainly go a long way in preparing a future anesthesiologist for success in college and medical school.
As with other physician specialties, all future anesthesiologists need to attend a four-year undergraduate program and most will enroll in a pre-medicine or another science-concentrated program, though it is not required.
Following graduation, prospective anesthesiologists are required to attend four years of medical school where they generally spend the first two years building on basic sciences and the second two in clinical training.
Additional Anesthesiologist Training
Upon graduation from medical school, an anesthesiologist must spend one year in an internship and three more years in a residency program. There are approximately 160 anesthesiology medical residency programs throughout the United States and Canada.
During residency training, anesthesiologists work toward obtaining certification from the American Society of Anesthesiologists or the American Board of Anesthesiology.
Some anesthesiologists may participate in an additional one-year fellowship if there is an interest in practicing in a specific area of anesthesiology, such as critical care medicine, pain medicine, research or education.