Career exploration: anesthesiology

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As one of the highest-paying medical careers you can pursue, becoming an anesthesiologist is an attractive specialty for prospective medical students.  The rewards of this profession are great, and the training to become a board-certified anesthesiologist is extensive and expensive. Are you ready to undertake one of the most challenging and financially lucrative medical professions? 

Education and training

The education and training required to become an anesthesiologist is standard for most medical professions with several exceptions.  Pursue an undergraduate degree, preferably in the sciences, so that you can gain exposure to the chemistry and pharmaceutical aspects of anesthesiology.  Our students get a close look at orthopedic surgery in Maharaj HospitalA high GPA, stellar MCAT score, clinical experience, and glowing letters of recommendation will support your medical school applications.  Once you have completed medical school, you’ll undertake a four year residency in anesthesiology.  During your residency, you will learn about patient evaluation, pain evaluation, pain management, and surgical support.  A fellow in anesthesiology continues your training and is not a required component, but does help develop your skills.  You become a board certified anesthesiologist by passing the written and oral examination administered by the American Board of Anesthesiology.  The road through education and training will take approximately 10 years past the undergraduate studies level. 

Duties of an anesthesiologist

Be prepared to work with all patient demographics as an anesthesiologist.  You may specialize to work with certain populations, like pediatrics and geriatrics, but a general anesthesiologist will have exposure to patients of all ages.

As an anesthesiologist, you ultimate goal is to manage a patient’s pain before, during, and after a medical procedure. You’ve got to be especially sensitive to a patient’s specific conditions and pain sensitivities. Besides surgical procedures, one of the better known tasks of an anesthesiologist is to assist in obstetrics; the epidural is a signature anesthesiology procedure.

Hours can be inconsistent at the beginning of your career as you take on-call shifts.  They tend to stabilize as your tenure increases.  There are specific skills that will help you be a successful anesthesiologist.  These include:

-The ability to collaborate with other medical professionals on a patient’s treatment team.

-The ability to be flexible in surprising situations

-The ability to work well with your hands

-The ability to problem-solve and make recommendations

One of the unique aspects of being an anesthesiologist is that your patient interaction can be extremely limited.  While you may interact with patients before they undergo procedures, typically, a patient is still waking from anesthesia while you have already moved onto your next case.  Occasionally, there will be follow up after surgery, but often these tasks are delegated to anesthesiologist assistants.

Salary and employment outlook

There are more than 40 million anesthesiology procedures performed every year, so this is a career in high demand that will continue to grow for the next generation.  Because of the extensive training required to become an anesthesiologist, you will be greatly financially rewarded.  The average anesthesiologist earns well over $300,000 annually with a generous benefits package to accompany this salary.  Expect to pay up to $30,000 in malpractice insurance.  This high risk profession requires a steep malpractice premium. 

Becoming an anesthesiologist is a tremendous career choice that benefits patients across all demographics.  If you are ready for an intense medical career, anesthesiology just might be right for you!

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