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What is an Anesthesiologist?

An Anesthesiologist is a specialized type of Doctor. Also known as: Obstetrical Anesthesiologist, Attending Anesthesiologist.

An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic. Once the patient enters the operating room, an anesthesiologist will be by their side throughout the surgery, making sure they are stable right through to the post-anesthesia care unit. Anesthesiology is a prestigious and lucrative field of medicine, but requires a great deal of education and expertise.

How to Become an Anesthesiologist

Interested in becoming an anesthesiologist? Here are your next steps.

  1. Take the Sokanu Career Test

    Would you make a good anesthesiologist? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!

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  2. Get the Education

    A doctorate degree is required to be an Anesthesiologist.

  3. Get Hired

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What does an Anesthesiologist do?

An anesthesiologist will meet with the patient prior to surgery to make sure they are suitably prepared and medically fit to endure the proposed surgery as well as the related anesthetic. Once they have done this, just before the surgery, the anesthesiologist will administer either a general or local anesthetic to the patient.

During the surgery, the anesthesiologist will monitor the patient's blood pressure, heart rhythm, temperature, level of consciousness, and amount of oxygen in the blood. For a general anesthetic, the anesthesiologist will monitor each breath. This is done by measuring the volume of breath exhaled and the amount of carbon dioxide in each breath. They may also measure the amount of blood the heart is pumping and blood pressure inside the lung vessels.

After putting the patient to sleep, the anesthesiologist will adjust the patient's position if necessary, depending on the surgery being performed. For example, a back operation will require a different position than a stomach operation. Also checking to make sure a patient doesn't have his legs crossed is important, as the patient can potentially sustain nerve damage if the legs are crossed for the duration of a long operation.

Some of the anesthesiologist's duties during surgery include:

  • Continuous monitoring of vital signs
  • Monitoring of the level and depth of anesthesia
  • Making adjustments if necessary
  • Recognition of any potentially life threatening emergencies and timely intervention
  • Ensuring the safety of the patient and taking appropriate steps to avoid any injuries to the patient’s body during the anesthetic period

Obstetrical anesthesiologists also help with pain management during childbirth. They discuss pain management options with the mother, and administer an epidural anesthetic if the mother decides that she wants it. They watch over the mother and if the labor is long, or the epidural wears off, they provide another dose.

They may also work with patients who need pain management for other issues outside of the operating room and delivery room. They provide after care for patients who have had surgery and still require some sort of pain management. They may also work in emergency rooms, and help with patients who need immediate pain relief or sedation.

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What is the workplace of an Anesthesiologist like?

Anesthesiologists often work in high stress situations, where a great deal of concentration and alertness is necessary, such as in the operating room. They also work in many outpatient facilities, and they will often have to work with people who are recovering from an operation, or those who need pain management treatment.

What does it take to become an Anesthesiologist?

The requirements to enter the field of anesthesiology are very specific; only those with certain interests, aptitudes, and personality traits should consider this specialty. Anesthesiology draws medical students who excel in the sciences and pharmacology and who are results-driven individuals. Anesthesiologists must be extremely observant and able to think and act very fast as their patients' lives are hanging in the balance; they must be detail-orientated and be well-prepared should something go wrong.

Anesthesiologists assess patients when they enter the hospital and develop an anesthetic plan. They take care of patients in the operating room as well as during the postoperative period. Individuals considering anesthesiology need to have an aptitude and a passion to care for patients with life-threatening conditions.

What is the difference between an Anesthesiologist and a Nurse Anesthetist?

An nurse anesthetist is a nurse with extra training (typically two years) in the field of anesthesiology, and has the ability to administer anesthesia. In most surgery centres and hospital settings, they work under the supervision of a board certified anesthesiologist. An anesthesiologist is a physician who has gone through medical school, internship, and then an accredited residency training program in a US hospital.

Also relevant for Nurse Anesthetist

What are the pros and cons of being an Anesthesiologist?

See if anesthesiology can be the right career fit for you. The following are some of the pros and cons in the field of anesthesiology:

Pros:
- high salary
- job security
- wide variety of patient types
- autonomy
- professional respect
- working with your hands
- instant gratification and feedback in the operating room
- good working schedule

Cons:
- over ten years of schooling
- getting residency positions can be very competitive
- lack of follow-up and continuity in patient care
- requires high level of responsibility and potential stress

What is some good advice for aspiring Anesthesiologists?

It is good to concentrate on science classes such as biology, chemistry or other advanced sciences in high school. After high school, the student who wants to practice anesthesiology should continue to concentrate on advanced science courses in university such as: anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry, physics and advanced math classes such as calculus.

All medical students applying in anesthesiology must do well on the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination). If your scores are not competitive, you will have an uphill battle to get a residency slot at a top program.

At the very least, individuals should do an anesthesiology rotation at their local institution. Medical students who stand out pay attention to what is going on, anticipate events, know how to be helpful, and get involved with the entire patient care experience. It is not recommended to stand around and give off a bored presence.

Anesthesiology departments receive hundreds of applications each year. Some things that may set you apart from the pack: excellent grades and USMLE scores, a strong dean’s letter and other recommendations, personal experiences, prior careers, other degrees, thought-provoking research, a list of activities, and a unique personal statement.

What are the subspecialties of Anesthesiology?

Anesthesiology, like all medical disciplines, is sufficiently complex that it is divided into several subspecialties. While initially trained in anesthesiology as a whole, as they move through residency training, anesthesiologists choose to specialize in a particular area.

Cardiothoracic Anesthesia - These anesthesiologists employ their advanced training dedicated to cardiac and thoracic anesthesia to make the perioperative period both safe and comfortable for patients

Critical Care Anesthesia - These anesthesiologists see a wide variety of trauma, general surgical, thoracic, neurosurgical, vascular and cardiac surgical patients

Neurosurgical Anesthesia - These anesthesiologists provide anesthesia in the operating room, neuroradiology, and in MRI and CT suites

Obstetric Anesthesia - Obstetric anesthesiologists serve in labor and delivery, ready to assist in the management of pain of labor and delivery, to administer anesthesia for cesarean section, and to manage emergencies that may arise

Orthopedic Anesthesia - These anesthesiologists administer safe anesthesia for a broad array of routine and challenging cases, such as major spine surgery, joint replacement, reconstructive orthopaedic surgery, extremity surgery and surgery for all orthopaedic subspecialty areas

Pain Medicine - Physicians from various specialties (neurology, anesthesiology, physical medicine, psychiatry, spine and neurosurgery, psychology, rheumatology) combine their expertise to manage the treatment of patients unable to a have a normal life because of pain

Pediatric Anesthesia - Children are not small adults and no child is exactly the same. Pediatric anesthesiologists focus on providing an individualized experience for each child, based on his or her needs. After surgery, pediatric anesthesiologists are involved in prescribing pain medication or recommending pain-relieving techniques for each child that is best for providing comfort and rest for optimal recuperation. Pediatric anesthesiologists are also involved in caring for children during radiological imaging or scanning procedures, gastrointestinal procedures, and other non-surgical treatments that require a cooperative and motionless patient.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine - These anesthesiologists specialize in providing care and preventing and relieving the suffering experienced by patients with life-limiting illnesses. They work with an interdisciplinary hospice or palliative care team to maximize quality of life while addressing the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of both patient and family.

How long does it take to become an Anesthesiologist?

It takes approximately 12 to 13 years to become an anesthesiologist. A bachelor's degree takes four years, medical school takes four years, and then another four years are spent as a resident. Some doctors follow their residency with a fellowship (another year) to further train in anesthesiology specialties like pain management, pediatric anesthesiology, or obstetric anesthesiology.

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Further Reading

  • The Time Is Right To Opt For Anesthesiology www.medscape.com

    Guiding patients who are fearful about an invasive procedure and taking them safely from induction to recovery is an enormous honor and privilege.

  • Anesthesiology Jobs all50medical.com

    While many people may believe that anesthesiology is just for “putting people to sleep” for surgery, anesthesiologists are responsible for much more including preoperative patient assessments, determining the best anesthesia for the patient and caring for the patient as they wake up or recover from anesthetic medications.

  • My Week: Anaesthetist Andrew Hartle www.theguardian.com

    I decided to become an anaesthetist after being present during a caesarean as a medical student. The woman was awake when her baby was born, and I thought that was brilliant.

  • A Day In The Life www.urmc.rochester.edu

    Anesthesiology Residency Program

  • Anesthesiologist's Salary www.healthcare-salaries.com

    Anesthesiologist's salary is the highest compared to other health care professionals in the field of medicine.

  • What Is A Physician Anesthesiologist? www.asahq.org

    Physician anesthesiologists are primarily responsible for the safety and well-being of patients before, during and after surgery.

  • What Is An Anesthesiologist? www.hss.edu

    Anesthesiologists are physicians specializing in perioperative care, development of an anesthetic plan, and the administration of anesthetics.

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How to Become an Anesthesiologist

Interested in becoming an anesthesiologist? Here are your next steps.

  1. Take the Sokanu Career Test

    Would you make a good anesthesiologist? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!

    Take the free career test
  2. Get the Education

    A doctorate degree is required to be an Anesthesiologist.

  3. Get Hired

      Loading jobs...

    View all jobs →

    Would you like to post jobs on this career? Find the best candidates using Sokanu's new psychometric job platform. Visit employers.sokanu.com today.