How to Become an Anesthesiologist

An anesthesiologist is a type of physician who specializes in administering anesthesia to a patient before, during, and after a surgical procedure. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for this profession is expected to grow by 13 percent by 2026. Anesthesiologists earn an average annual salary of more than $265,000.

Anesthesiologists are responsible for interviewing the patient prior to a surgical procedure to develop an appropriate pain management plan, understanding the complications and side effects associated with his or her medical condition, managing a patient’s recovery after surgery, and providing pain relief during the procedure itself. Anesthesiologists administer general anesthesia, which induces a state of complete unconsciousness; local anesthesia, which numbs just a small part of the body; and regional anesthesia, which blocks pain from affecting a larger area such as the legs or the torso. They may provide a combination of these methods. If you’re interested in this high-paying and sought-after profession, these are the steps you need to take.

1. Enroll in an undergraduate pre-med program. 
While the major you choose for your college career doesn’t necessarily affect your admission to medical school, it’s important to make sure that you complete the science and math prerequisites you’ll need for your advanced degree. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, you must complete a course of study that includes classes in calculus, general and organic chemistry, biology, and physics.

2. Complete medical school.
After successfully completing your undergraduate degree, your next challenge is four years in medical school. This graduate education will lead to a doctoral degree in medicine (M.D.) or osteopathy (D.O.). While in medical school, you’ll be exposed to various specialty areas during your clinical experience.

3. Complete an anesthesiology residency.
Medical school graduates must complete a residency in their chosen specialty area before becoming licensed to practice medicine independently. To become board-certified in anesthesiology, your residency program must consist of a year of general medical, pediatric, or surgical training, then three years of specialized anesthesiology training.

4. Complete a fellowship.
If you’re interested in pursuing a subspecialty within anesthesiology, such as cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics, neuroanesthesiology, critical care, or pain management, you’ll need to do a one-year fellowship in that area.

5. Become board certified.
To practice as an anesthesiologist in most states, you’ll need to sit for the exams given by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Upon successfully completing these written and oral exams, you’ll be certified as an anesthesiologist.

Written By Ryan Cooper