Do you want to work in a clinical setting, but don’t want to become a doctor or nurse? Becoming an anesthesiologist might just be the right path for you. While they require the same skills as other medical professionals, such as intelligence and compassion, it’s a more specific field of study. And not all anesthesiologists will work in the operating room. There are just as many opportunities in the field in pain management.
Do you think you have what it takes to become an anesthesiologist? Let’s take a look at the skills you need to succeed, the education you’ll need to pursue, and what types of careers you can find as an anesthesiologist.
How to Become an Anesthesiologist: Careers in Anesthesiology
If you’ve ever undergone a procedure that requires pain management or sedation, you’ve worked with an anesthesiologist. Anesthesiologists work in sterile medical facilities during surgeries, births, and other procedures. As they need to stay attentive to the conditions of the patients during the course of the entire operation, anesthesiologists will need to stand for hours at a time. Depending on the specific job, anesthesiologists can work irregular hours and have overnight shifts. Sometimes you need to be on-call if you work in emergency surgeries.
So what does an anesthesiologist do? Here are some tasks they might perform depending on their specific job:
- They will administer anesthetics to manage pain during medical procedures. Depending on the surgery, this could involve sedation.
- Over the course of the surgery, they monitor the vital signs of the patient, such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and body temperature. They’ll make adjustments to the drug dosage in response to these key data points.
- Apart from surgery, they will do pain management for people in the intensive care unit (ICU), people giving birth, and people living with chronic pain.
- They will cooperate with another physician, anesthesiologist, or surgeon to develop treatment and pain relief plans for different patients.
Even within surgery, there are different types of anesthesia. You have regional anesthesia, general anesthesia, and local anesthetic, and it all depends on whether the patients are undergoing invasive procedures or just minor operations.
The Importance of Compassion
Anesthesia care comes in all different forms, but requires the core value of compassion. You’re working with people who are scared to undergo a procedure or are in immense pain. Pain can make people say some nasty things. You have to possess the patience and kindness to work with people going through a difficult time. More than ever, these people need a kind, friendly person to walk and talk them through these trials, both in and out of the operating room.
Becoming a Veterinarian Anesthesiologist
People aren’t the only ones who need pain management and sedation for surgery. If you’re passionate about helping animals and want a career in the medical field, consider becoming a veterinarian anesthesiologist.
The schooling path is a little different, as you’ll have to go to veterinary school instead of medical school, but you’ll be doing essentially the same type of work: pain management and sedation or local anesthetic during surgeries.
How Much Do Anesthesiologists Make
Becoming an anesthesiologist takes a lot of work, and practicing as one takes a lot of dedication and skill. As a result, anesthesiologists are compensated competitively. According to Salary.com, the median yearly pay an anesthesiologist takes home in the US is $408,100.
Pay will vary based on the number of years in the field, the robustness of your resume, the geographical location, and specific job you have.
Like all careers in the medical field, anesthesiologists require a lot of schooling before they’re ready to practice on their own.
First and foremost, they need a bachelor’s degree. Popular pre-med degrees include Biology, Chemistry, or Sociology. Then, they need to attend medical school, which takes another 4 years to finish. Following medical school, they’ll spend anywhere between 3 and 7 additional years working internships or residencies to prepare to practice on their own.
Medical school is tough, and getting in can be even tougher. Applying for medical schools is a competitive process. It involves the submission of transcripts, Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores, and letters of recommendation professing your aptitude for the profession in and out of the classroom.
But being a perfect student on paper doesn’t guarantee admission. Schools take into account the personality of the applicant, in addition to their involvement outside the classroom. Few schools will admit a student without a stellar committee interview.
Once admitted to medical school, students spend the first 2 years in and out of labs and classrooms. They study both the practical skills and the ethics of the profession. Years 3 and 4 include hands-on work with patients, supervising professionals out in the field. Getting certified by an organization like the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) will show that you’re at the top of your profession. You can also join the American Society of Anesthesiologists to stay connected.
Ranked by US News, here are the top schools for anesthesiology programs.
- Harvard University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Duke University
- University of California-San Francisco
- Columbia University
Is Becoming an Anesthesiologist Right for You?
Many little kids will say they want to become a doctor or a veterinarian when they grow up. Although anesthesiologist may not top the list as a kid’s dream job (maybe because it’s pretty tough to pronounce), it requires the same compassion, intelligence, attention to detail, and quick decision-making that any doctor must possess. Becoming an anesthesiologist takes time and dedication, but it can serve as a really fulfilling career for those who want to help people feel better.
If you’re considering making a drastic professional shift, join WBD! We’re here to help you as you make big professional decisions and support you along the way.
Author, Artist, Photographer.
Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.
She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.
She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.