Medical Professions Resources Directory: Anesthesiologist

How To Become a...

How to Become an Anesthesiologist


An anesthesiologist is trained to provide pain relief and maintenance, or restoration of a stable condition during and immediately following operation, an obstetric or diagnostic procedure. The anesthesiologist assesses the risk of the patient's condition prior to, during and after surgery. They provide medical management and consultation in pain management and critical care medicine. An an anesthesiologist is a physician--a medical specialist who makes all the medical decisions about anesthetizing a patient for surgery and who is responsible for the safety and well-being of the patient. This includes maintaining the patient in a state of controlled unconsciousness (while under general anesthesia), providing pain relief and monitoring the patient's critical life functions (breathing, heart rate and heart rhythm, blood pressure, body temperature) as they are affected throughout surgical, obstetrical or other medical procedures.

Anesthesiologists can receive training in the following sub-specialties: Critical Care Medicine - diagnoses, treats and supports patients with multiple organ dysfunction. Pain Medicine - provides a high level of care for patients experiencing problems with acute, chronic and/or cancer pain. Pediatric Anesthesiology - preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative anesthetic care of children and adolescents.

The residency training program for anesthesiology is four years. Fellowships in an anesthesia sub-specialty and in education or research may also be taken for an additional year. The annual salary for anesthesiologists ranges from $242,886 to $334,121.

During internship and residency, trainees work 12-hour, 12-hour and 24-hour days in cycles. Real-world anesthesiologists probably average 10-12 hour days with night call every four to five days. To be a fine anesthesiologist, one has to be able to remain vigilant for many hours. Anesthesiologists have a short-term but intense relationship with their patients: calming them before surgery, getting them through surgery safely and without pain, and making sure they have recovered enough to go home or be admitted to a regular hospital floor. Their "thank-yous" and smiles make it all worthwhile.







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