Before discussing how to become an anesthesiologist (not to be confused with a nurse anesthetist) it is important to explain what they do and why they are important so that you can have a clear understanding of their role in the medical field.
An anesthesiologist is a physician (M.D. or M.O.) who’s primary job centers around the administration and management of delivering anesthesia via gas or injection to patients who are suffering from chronic pain or are in the process of being operated on.
The medication patients receive is vital for helping them deal with their medical condition by minimizing or eliminating their physical pain.
When performing a surgery or operation anesthesiologist will administer pain medication and monitor the patients vital signs to ensure they remain in healthy and stable condition throughout the surgery.
In these cases patients are also likely to be sedated and unconscious so that the surgeon can operate on them without having to worry about the patient intervening or being conscious of what’s going on.
While anesthesiologist are highly trained to administer and manage the anesthesia that a patient receives, because the wrong dosage can have severe and life threatening effects if not managed properly, they are also trained to diagnose patients and identify potential medical complications, monitor vital signs for abnormalities or issues, gather and maintain patient records and receive continued education on the latest medications, procedures and other vital anesthesiology related information.
During the process of a patients treatment the anesthesiologist will:
- Conduct patient and/or family interviews to learn about the patients health and potential health concerns, allergies and medical/medication restrictions
- Obtain, research and gather medical records on their patients medical history
- Administer and manage anesthesia medication
- Monitor patient vital signs for any issues or abnormalities
- Operate basic/advanced life support if necessary
- Follow up with patients after surgery/operation to ensure the patient is recovering successfully
The path to becoming an anesthesiologist (overview)
The path to becoming an anesthesiologist is a long, but high rewarding one.
Potential anesthesiologists can expect to spend around 12 years learning and perfecting their craft before becoming certified and being able to practice/work on their own.
Anesthesiologists start by attending undergraduate school where they learn basic skills that will prepare them for medical school.
The undergraduate program lasts about four years and focuses on the fundamentals of chemistry, science, math, social science and other areas that can be applied to a medical program.
Upon completion of the undergraduate program students will earn their bachelors degree and may begin applying to medical programs that are centered around anesthesiology.
Once accepted into medical school students will spend an additional four years learning and understanding the field of anesthesiology.
As with the undergraduate program/degree medical school may take an additional four years to complete.
During this time anesthesiology students will be educated on the science, application and management of anesthesiology and form the basis of their understanding both inside and outside of the classroom setting.
After completion of the medical program anesthesiologists must spend an additional one year in an internship and three years in a residency in order to earn their license and begin practicing/working as a qualified anesthesiologist.
Those who want to start a career in anesthesiology should be prepared to spend up to 12 years learning and mastering the field of anesthesiology before earning their certification and being allowed to work as an anesthesiologist.
Becoming an anesthesiologist begins with earning your G.E.D. or diploma and applying to an accredited college or university that offers a four year bachelors degree program.
While attending school you can choose to earn a degree from a number of different disciplines based on your personal interests or future endeavors.
Although students may choose from a variety of educational programs while earning their degree they are required to take classes in English, humanities, social science, biology, chemistry, math and physics in order to become eligible to attend a medical program after the completion of an undergraduate program.
The first four year of education should be devoted to developing the skills and assets that are needed to be successful in medical school.
Prior to choosing an educational program it is high recommended that you speak with a guidance counselor to help you decide on an educational path that will help you gain entrance and succeed in the medical program you will be applying to after graduation.
Once candidates complete the bachelors undergraduate program the next step is to apply and get accepted into a medical school that offers an accredited anesthesiology program.
Medical school will educate future anesthesiologists on the science, application and management of anesthesiology along with other important factors related to providing excellent patient care.
The foundation that is taught in medical school will be invaluable towards helping anesthesiologist diagnose, treat and care for their patients.
Students will learn about anesthesiology, medicine, physiology and patient care through classroom lectures, books, videos, interactive programs, science labs and real world experience in order to help prepare them for the work they will face when they successfully complete the program.
Internship and Residency
Upon completion of a qualified medical program future anesthesiologists must spend additional time in real life training through an internship and residency program where they’ll develop their skills further and learn how to provide proper patient care in a direct setting before branching out on their own.
Anesthesiologists must complete a one year internship and an additional three year residency program before they can become licensed.
While attending residency anesthesiologists will be working with other medical professionals to hone their skills and gain experience towards earning their certification/license, which will allow them to get hired at a hospital, dentist office or healthcare center and begin practicing/performing anesthesiology on their own.
Anesthesiologists that are interested in working within a specific field of health care such as critical care, research or pain management may continue their education with an additional one-year fellowship where they’ll learn the ins and outs of the field they plan on applying to.
Certification and Licensing
In order to begin working as an anesthesiologists candidates must complete the educational and residency requirements set by the state.
They must also pass any oral and written examinations along with licencing requirements that are necessary for earning their certification/license.
Anesthesiologists who successfully complete their educational requirements and residency program may be awarded certification through the American Society of Anesthesiologists or the American Board of Anesthesiology.
The certification/license process grants anesthesiologists the right to begin working as legal anesthesiologists where they can be hired by hospital or healthcare center and begin practicing on their own.
The certification and licencing process is the last step towards becoming a certified anesthesiologist.
While obtaining certification may be the end the formal educational/residency journey it is only the beginning of their personal education and career journey.
Congratulation on becoming a licensed anesthesiologist, you earned it!
Anesthesiologists work in a number of different healthcare settings including hospitals, dental offices and healthcare clinics as well as in numerous fields throughout the private sector.
In many cases anesthesiologist work along side doctors, physicians, surgeons and registered nurses in order to provide proper medical care to patients who require special care for their medical situation.
Getting a job as an anesthesiologist is fairly straight forward.
As with most careers anesthesiologist may look for and apply for jobs through online resources such as career websites or websites owned by specific hospitals or healthcare entities.
Anesthesiologists may also work with their residency and medical school to get help looking for a job or see if they have placement opportunities after completing the medical program.
Some medical schools and/or residencies may have partnerships that will make it easier to find work after the programs completion.
If at all possible obtaining recommendations from existing anesthesiologists and other medical professionals may be a great way to get started after obtained an anesthesiologist license/certification.
When applying for a job make sure that you have a professional resume written up and prepare yourself for potential interviews by consulting your medical school, residency and speaking with experienced anesthesiologists.
If they offer career professional preparation you should consider taking it in order to maximize your opportunities and confidence when applying for a job.
Once you get hired don’t forget to celebrate and reward yourself for all of the hard work you’ve done!
Before you begin the anesthesiologist journey
Before you begin your journey towards becoming an anesthesiologist you should consider the work that is needed to get their be sure you are willing to make the scarifies that are necessary to become an anesthesiologist.
While the career is extremely rewarding it is also very challenging and requires a high level of dedication and responsibility.
Are you willing to put away 12 years to study for anesthesiology and are you able to handle the emotional, financial relationship challenges that may come your way as a result of your interest in anesthesiology.
If you are then the rewards of caring for others in need, being a part of the medical community and knowing that your work is helping others in need may be within your grasp.
If you truly want to become an anesthesiologist follow your dreams and be proud of your work, but also understand the dedication and work involved to get get there.