What is an Anesthesiologist?

AnesthesiologistIf you’re dreaming of a career in surgical medicine without actually picking up a scalpel, then you may want to consider specializing your career in anesthesia to become an anesthesiologist. As highly skilled medical doctors, anesthesiologists are given the responsibility of keeping patients comfortable and pain-free before, during, and after surgical operations. Depending on the medical procedure, an anesthesiologist will provide general anesthesia that places patients in a state of complete unconsciousness, sedation that keeps patients calm, or regional anesthetics and epidurals for numbing just one section of the body. Below we’ve created a job description to help you determine whether becoming an anesthesiologist is right for you, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

What Anesthesiologists Do

Anesthesiologists have the duty of ensuring the safety and comfort of each patient undergoing a surgical procedure to avoid distress. First, anesthesiologists will talk with their patients to create an anesthesia plan and ensure they’re ready for the surgical procedure. Once patients enter the operating room, anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists stay by the patient’s side until they’re stable in the post-operative care unit. Anesthesiologists will administer the anesthetics, monitor the patient’s heart rhythm and blood pressure, make certain enough oxygen is circulating in the blood, track the patient’s level of consciousness, and watch neurological functioning. If problems like cardiac arrest arise, anesthesiologists will work quickly to resolve the issue and keep patients safe. Most anesthesiologists also run recovery rooms to manage post-operative pains once patients emerge from the effects of anesthesia.

Where Anesthesiologists Practice

As one might expect, anesthesiologists typically are employed in general medical and surgical hospitals to provide medications that reduce or eliminate pain. Anesthesiologists will likely split their time traveling between the operating room and the post-operative recovery room to carefully monitor the status of their patients. However, anesthesiologists can find other job opportunities in virtually any healthcare environment where pain management is needed. Some anesthesiologists work in physician offices, medical clinics, military bases, outpatient surgery centers, acute care facilities, surgical centers, cosmetic surgery practices, dentist offices, and specialty care hospitals. Most anesthesiologists will lead an anesthesia care team with nurse anesthetists, residents, fellows, and other healthcare professionals.

How to Become an Anesthesiologist

The road to becoming an anesthesiologist is a long one that includes numerous years of schooling beyond the bachelor’s degree. After completing an appropriate undergraduate program, aspiring anesthesiologists must gain admissions to medical school by passing the MCAT exam. From there, you’ll need to complete four years of medical school to receive your Medical Doctor  or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Next, you will specialize your medical skill sets by participating in a two to three-year residency program in anesthesiology. While under the supervision of a licensed anesthesiologist, you’ll receive hands-on experience in a clinical setting to administer anesthetics. Finally, you can apply for a license and pass the final exam administered by the American Board of Anesthesiology to practice independently.

Related Resource: Become a Surgical Nurse

Overall, the ASA reports that more than 45 million anesthetics are delivered to patients across the United States each year. Anesthesiologists are senior physicians with the final call on all anesthesia-related medical decisions, so it’s no surprise that they earn a hefty salary potential that averages $235,070 per year. Becoming an anesthesiologist is a smart move for any aspiring medical professionals who wish to help patients get through operations safely and back on the road to recovery quickly.