How Many Hours Do Anesthesiologists Work?

Nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery or acute pain.

The patient’s amount of anesthesia varies depending on the pain level and situation.

During anesthesia treatment, the anesthesiologist will inform their patients how the anesthesia may affect them.

They’ll also answer questions related to the treatment, research the individual’s background and medical records and determine potentially harmful side effects.

Before, during, and after treatment, anesthesiologists monitor vital signs, observe blood pressure changes and check body temperature and air passages.

Finally, they’ll tailor the anesthesia treatment to the patient’s needs and ensure they respond well to the medication.

How Many Hours Do Anesthesiologists Work?

For most anesthesiologists, working 40 – 60 hours per week is regular.

However, there are many variations in work schedules for anesthesiologists because they operate in diverse settings.

As a result, the hours an anesthesiologist works differ depending on their situation, institution, and work obligations.

Work schedules typically revolve around the hospital/institution’s surgeries and patient anesthesia requirements.

Most commonly, anesthesiologists work 8 – 12 hour shifts during workdays. It means they can work 8 hours and 12 hours the next day.

It all depends on the number of procedures they have for that day and other factors.

Anesthesiologists also work on-call, requiring them to work at the facility during emergencies or work shortages.

Other Work Schedule Variables

Some variables impact an anesthesiologist’s daily work schedule.

For example, when a patient’s procedure takes longer than expected or they’re needed to provide additional treatment and oversight.

It impacts personal time and non-work activities such as spending time with the family, going to a doctor’s appointment, or getting the car repaired.

In this case, they will continue to work until they finish everything.

The general rule of thumb is, “we work until everything is done).

However, anesthesiologists work together to try and accommodate each other needs.

For example, if one anesthesiologist needs time off for an appointment, they’ll contact scheduling and staff ahead of time to accommodate their needs.

Anesthesiologists have to be flexible with their time. It’s because canceled appointments, shift changes, and schedule alterations occur frequently.

As a result, this impacts their daily activities, responsibilities, and the time they go home.

Are There Set Schedules for Anesthesiologists?

For anesthesiologists obtaining a set work schedule, such as Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm, is extremely rare.

Most facilities don’t have adequate staff to accommodate those hours.

Even more, emergencies require anesthesiologists to be on call and work rotations.

With that said, large organizations that have adequate staff may provide set hours to a few anesthesiologists.

However, this is rare, and most anesthesiologists don’t expect set schedules.

Even more, those without set schedules could take offense, limiting the anesthesiologist’s opportunities.

It all depends on the facility and the agreements between the staff and employer.

What About Salary and Overtime?

Unlike registered nurses, certified registered nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists aren’t entitled to overtime pay.

According to the exemption of professional employees under the fair labor standards act, most anesthesiologists will unlikely receive overtime.

As a result, anesthesiologists focus on productivity and finishing work promptly.

Because they’re unlikely to make more money working overtime, there isn’t a financial incentive to extend hours when it isn’t necessary.

However, many anesthesiologists do their best to help each other out, and unexpected circumstances create long workdays.

Besides that, anesthesiologists earn a yearly salary and vacation time, so they’re usually aware of their take-home pay.

Do Anesthesiologists Get Days Off?

Yes, anesthesiologists do get days off. In addition, some anesthesiologists work part-time, but this is less common.

With that said, their workload and schedule determine which days they get off every week.

Whether anesthesiologists do inpatient care or outpatient care also impacts their schedule.

It’s because inpatient care may involve patients staying overnight for treatment, while outpatient care requires shorter patient sessions.

Anesthesiologists also earn vacation time for travel, pleasure, or time off.

Do Anesthesiologists Work on Weekends?

Yes, anesthesiologists work weekends. However, their schedule varies depending on the facility’s needs.

As a result, they may work both weekend days and one weekend day or have the weekend off for a particular week.

However, many facility schedulers try to balance anesthesiologists’ weekend schedules to ensure everyone receives time off.

That is if the demands of the job allow it.

Do Anesthesiologists Work On Holidays?

Yes, anesthesiologists work holidays if scheduled or called in.

It’s because anesthesia is necessary for specific treatments, and if patients require anesthesia, an anesthetist must be available.

With that said, anesthesiology groups may collaborate with other each other to determine holiday shifts.

However, this depends on the facility and whether they allow employees to switch holiday shifts.

Anesthesiologists working outside a hospital or 24/7 healthcare facility such as a dentist’s office or educational institution may receive holidays off if the facility is closed.

It all depends on the facility they work for and that facility’s schedule.

Once again, an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist must provide anesthesia whenever necessary.

Anesthesiology Residency Programs

This article from the School of Medicine & Dentistry provides some excellent examples of anesthesiology residents’ daily experiences.

It’s an excellent read for anyone interested in understanding a typical work schedule for residents.

Here’s a threat from Reddit discussing the hour’s anesthesia residents work weekly.

To illustrate, most students mentioned working 45 – 60 hours per week.

Ultimately, the number of hours anesthesiology residents work depends mainly on the university program and the hospital’s needs.

Hours can vary widely from one resident program to the next.

Therefore, it’s essential to determine the university you are attending and understand their residency program to estimate how many hours you’ll likely work.

You can also google residency programs for a particular school and see if students post their residency schedules online.

According to PubMed.gov (in a 2018 article), some anesthesiology residents have extremely tough and fatiguing schedules.

On average, anesthesiology residents can work 50 – 70 hours per week.

It can result in significant fatigue, burnout, and reduced awareness.

Some students worked 24-hour shifts or overnight rotations and took calls every third night.

Another report (1993) involving seven anesthesiology training programs showed students working an average of 64 – 66 hours per week.

However, this report is old and only accounts for a small portion of training programs.

It puts students under a lot of stress to perform well and minimize their time outside resident work to recover.

Work-Life Balance

The anesthesiology profession doesn’t provide the best work-life balance for those wanting to work 40 hours per week at a 9 – 5 job.

It’s because work hours vary weekly and monthly as hospitals and healthcare facilities experience shifts in their patient’s demands.

As a result, those who want to become anesthesiologists must accept the job’s demands.

With that said, anesthesiology is a growing field, and these medical professionals earn some of the highest salaries in the country.

They can easily earn several hundred thousand dollars per year for their services.

According to Salary.com, certified nurse anesthetists earn roughly $200,000 annually.

Even more, anesthesiologists earn approximately $415,000 per year on average!

As I mentioned, anesthesiologists earn vacation time that provides opportunities to travel, relax and make the most of their time.

Although this career isn’t for everyone, those who work as anesthesiologists generally love their work.

It’s gratifying, impactful for the patient, and diverse with new daily challenges.

Although many anesthesiologists work 40 – 60 hours per week, many Americans work more than 40 hours per week.

However, anesthesiologists earn fantastic salaries, benefits, and vacation time for their talents, expertise, and dedication.

If you’re willing to work hard, pursue an anesthesiology degree, and accept the job demands, you could make a great living.