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How to Become an Anesthesiologist – A Complete Guide

Do you want to learn what it takes to become an Anesthesiologist? If YES, here is a complete guide plus requirements needed to become an Anesthesiologist.

Terminology varies for countries for while the United States, refer to their anesthesiologists as a physician who has an accredited residency program in anesthesiology after completing medical school, and anesthetist for nurses who have undergone specialized training in administering anesthesia under a physician’s supervision.

The united kingdom refers to anesthetist as physicians who may be assisted by anesthetic nurses and technicians. Anesthesiologists or anesthetists provide medical care to patients in acute situations.

Table of Content

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What is an Anesthesiologist?

An anesthesiologist is a physician who is a specialist in administering anesthetics before, during, or after surgery or any other medical procedures. Anesthesiologists are responsible for keeping patients stable and free from pain during surgeries. They are physicians that have been trained in anesthesia and perioperative medicine.

They carry out preoperative evaluation, consult with the surgical team, create a tailored plan for each individual, manage a patient’s airways, intraoperative life support and provide pain control.

What are the Duties of an Anesthesiologist and their Job Description?

  • Administering anesthetics during medical procedures, by making use of either local, spinal, caudal, or intravenous methods.
  • Monitoring of patients before, during, and after administering the anesthesia so as to check and counteract adverse reactions or complications.
  • Provision and maintenance of life support and airway management, and helping patients prepare for emergency surgery.
  • Write down or record the type and amount of anesthesia used, and the condition of the patient throughput the medical procedures.
  • Carry out a patient examination; obtain medical history, as well as using diagnostic tests in determining risk during surgery, obstetrics, and other medical procedures.
  • Correctly position patients on the operating table so as to ensure that they are accessible surgically, and maximize patient comfort.
  • Decide on whether to move patients to another ward, room, or be sent home after stabilization and recovery.
  • Coordinate the administration of anesthetics during operation with surgeons.
  • Discuss with other medical professionals so as to determine the type of anesthetic to render a patient that is unconscious or sensible to pain.
  • Supervise and coordinate the nurses and technicians, as well as other health care providers.
  • Ordering of x-rays, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic procedures, so as to correctly diagnose illnesses.
  • Educate students and other staff of the types, and methods of administering anesthesia, complications that might occur and its signs, and the emergency methods that will counteract the reactions.
  • Maintenance of surgical suite, which includes operating, wash-ups, waiting rooms, anesthetic and sterilizing equipment.
  • Instructing patients, individuals, and groups on health preservation and prevention of disease.
  • Conduct medical research that will control and cure diseases, investigate new medications as well as testing new medical techniques.
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Tools and Equipment Used by an Anesthesiologist

  • Body plethysmographs machines
  • Arterial line catheters
  • Automated external defibrillators AED
  • Heart rate monitors and accessories.
  • Electrocardiography EKG machines
  • Precordial and Pretracheal stethoscopes
  • Tracheotomy sets
  • Anesthesia gas concentration monitors
  • Pulse oximeters
  • Spirometers

The software tools used are:

  • Medical Record EMR software
  • Calendar and Scheduling software
  • Healthpac Computer Systems H2000 Anesthesia Billing Software
  • Database user interface and query software.
  • Internet browser
  • Electronic mail software

How to Become an Anesthesiologist – A Complete Guide

Facts, Figures and Labor Market Statistics for Anesthesiologists

  • In the united states
  • As at 2014, anesthesiologists earned an average of $90 per hour and an annual average salary of $246,320
  • 34,000 anesthesiologists were employed in 2012, with projected job openings pegged at 16,700 between 2012 and 2022; this is at a 22% average. 87% of anesthesiologists worked in health Care and Social Assistance, while 10% of anesthesiologists were employed.
  • Anesthesiologists must apply for state licenses. Some states require just the Medical Licensing Examination (MLE), while others require additional exams.
  • Anesthesiologists work in sterile environments, and also stand for longer periods, especially during surgery.
  • All doctors regardless of discipline, when applying for a license renewal, must complete at least 50 hours of continuing education, in a specified time.
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In the United Kingdom

  • As at 2013, according to the census carried out by the Royal College of Anesthetists, there were 12,000 number of consultant anesthetists working in the UK. 66% of hospital patients have received care from an anesthetist.
  • Each year, 6 million anesthetics are administered
  • Majority of consultant anesthetists are male at 70%, the females are at 28%.
  • Deaths caused by anesthetists are rare in the UK, and occur in about 1 in 185,000 general anesthetics.
  • There are about 5,400 Nurse Anesthetists. Nurse anesthetists assist anesthetists.
  • Anesthetists give anesthetics to patients in radiology, radio-therapy and dental surgery.
  • Anesthetists work for long hours, including weekends and nights. The European legislation has put the work hours to no more than 48 per week.
  • Doctors in training are paid extra if they work for more than 40 hours a week or outside the hours of 7am to 7pm on weekdays.
  • Progression through all the grades will involve study and Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
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In Australia

  • As at 2012, employed anesthetists were 3,600 with a projected employment growth of 3,900 by 2017
  • There has been an employment decline of anesthetics at -16.4% between 2011 and 2016, although employment is expected to grow strongly in 2017
  • The top 3 regions that employed anesthetists were Queensland at 23.4%, Victoria at 23.4%, and New South Wales at 18.9%.
  • An anesthetist worked an average of 44.3 hours per week.
  • There were more full time male anesthetists than there were females, with the percentage ratio at 65.9% for males and 18.2%.
  • Anesthetists are doctors with the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB, ChB or MBBS) who specialized in the field of anesthesia.
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In Canada

  • There were 3,118 anesthesiologists employed as at 2013. 34% worked in Academic Health care Centres, while 30% worked in community hospitals
  • Anesthesiologists are physicians with the MD (Medicinae Doctorem) or MDCM (Medicinae Doctororem et Chirurgiae Magistrum) degree, who specialized in the field of anesthesiology.
  • As at 2013, there were more male anesthesiologists than there were females.
  • Average time worked was 33.2 hours per week, with most being on-call for up to 120 hours a month.
  • As at 2013, there were 101 overseas anesthesiologists training in Canada.
  • 92% of anesthesiologists were certified by the Royal College in 2013, the highest compared to other bodies.
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Is the Demand for Anesthesiologists on the Decline or Increasing?

There are a large number of people that suffers from acute pain and needs drugs to be administered to them keeps growing. Mothers that want to reduce the pain of childbirth or have an operation done would require anesthesiologists.

Patients that require surgery for different kind of ailments will always require anesthesiologists. The demand for anesthesiologists will always increase.

The Impact of Internet and Technology on the Anesthesiology Profession?

The Positives

  • Anesthesiologists can use the internet to read up on medical trends, without sacrificing patients’ time.
  • Anesthesiologists can give out healthcare and disease prevention information to patients online.
  • Doctors can network with colleagues, and share vital information too that will enable them advance in their career.

The Negative(s)

  • The internet haven’t been kind to anesthesiologists who have had a malpractice claim against them especially as an internet search brings up both the good and the bad and can taint the name of an anesthesiologist.
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Careers That Exist Within the Anesthesiology Profession

  • Microbiologists: They study micro-organisms such as viruses, algae, bacteria and fungi, and certain type of parasites; trying to understand the life cycle of the organisms.
  • Medical Scientists except Epidemiologists: They conduct research that deals with understanding human diseases as well as improving human health.
  • Pharmacist: A pharmacist is one who is skilled in dispensing medication to a patient, following the prescription from a doctor, dentist, physician and other health professionals.
  • Physician Assistants: They examine patients, carry out diagnosis, and provide treatment. They are supervised by the physicians, and Surgeons, and practice medicine on a team.
  • Family and General Practitioners: They diagnose and treat injuries that might generally occur. They also help prevent diseases, and refer patients to specialists for further treatment.
  • Nurse Anesthetists: They assist in administering anesthesia, monitor a patient’s vital sign and generally monitor the recovery of a patient from anesthesia.

Professional Bodies That Exist in the Anesthesiology Profession

  • United States
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American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA): ABA also certifies anesthesiologists that are both Doctors of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O). ABA is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

In the United Kingdom

  • The Royal College of Anesthetists: This is a professional body that ensures that patients get quality care by ensuring that standards are maintained, in anesthesia, critical care and pain medicine.
  • The Association of Anesthetists of Great Britain & Ireland: The aim of this association is to promote, and advance the education, safety and research in anesthesia, as well as ensuring that the standard as regards welfare and professionalism of its members are adhered to.

In Australia

  • Australian Society of Anesthetists (ASA): ASA is a professional body that promotes and protects the status, best interests, and independence of the Anesthetists in Australia.
  • Medical Board of Australia: This is a licensing and registration authority that requires that Anesthetists are registered and licensed, before they can practice.

In Canada

  • Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society (CAS): CAS promotes excellence in patient care through education, advocacy, and research.

Benefits of Becoming an Anesthesiologist?

  • Personal Responsibility: The anesthesiologist is responsible for a patient’s stabilization, and to be kept pain-free during medical procedures. Most times during procedures, patients are usually unconscious and the anesthesiologist must ensure that patients are kept under enough sedation without looking to endanger the function of their hearts and lungs. Anesthesiologists also ensure that they properly manage the airways of patients during surgery, and also provide care for patients in chronic pain either in hospitals or long-term care facilities.
  • Stable Home Life: During the early years in the career of the anesthesiologist, they take turn on calls or shits. This makes it possible to for anesthesiologists to have a stable home life, thereby creating a balanced lifestyle. Also anesthesiologists can decide on the work settings they feel more comfortable in; so while some might prefer the hospitals, others might prefer an outpatient clinic, while others might prefer to manage their own pain management practice where hours are likely to be predictable and regular.
  • Career Consideration: Out of all the medical specialties, the years spent before one can become an anesthesiologist is comparably shorter. Intending Anesthesiologists spend 3 years in anesthesiology residency after the general medical graduate internship, while that of other specialties can vary between 3 to 5 years and then an extra 1 to 4 years in specialized fellowships.
  • Earning Average: As compared with other physicians, anesthesiologists are earning very well. The lowest earning average for anesthesiologists in 2012 was $316,500 per year, while the highest was $471,667. The earning figures can be compared to that of general surgeons and cardiologists, and are higher than that of obstetricians, neurologists, family physicians and other specialists.
  • Helping People: Even though most of their patients are unconscious, hardly knowing about them, anesthesiologists perform a tasking role of ensuring that patients are kept alive and that nothing goes wrong, either with the patient’s airway or drugs administered, during a procedure. Anesthesiologists derive their satisfaction, when a procedure is problem free for the patient.
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Factors Discouraging People from Becoming Anesthesiologists

  • Long Training Period: Intending Anesthesiologists must train longer before they can become one. In the United States, it takes a total of 4 years, while in the United Kingdom, anesthetists train longer than their U.S counterparts.
  • Thankless job: Most patients that undergo surgical procedures are usually asleep, and so do not know or recognize the anesthesiologists who did their jobs so well or helped with the procedures, and therefore cannot thank them; they only recognize and thank their doctors.
  • Routine: Most of the tasks performed by an anesthesiologist are basically routine task, and are often repetitive in nature as there are little variations as regarding procedures.
  • Malpractice: An anesthesiologist must always carry liability insurance because he or she might be sued for malpractice through circumstances that might occur before, during, and after a procedure.
  • Scheduling: Due to their work settings, the schedule of an anesthesiologist might not allow for a stable life. Those that work in hospitals or emergency care facilities have to work round the calls. They might also have to work late, depending on how long a surgery takes and even work overnight.
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How Much Do Anesthesiologists Earn Monthly/Annually

The average yearly income for anesthesiologists depends on their specialties, grade, working hours, settings, and so many other factors.

  • United States

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 2014, anesthesiologists earned an average of $90 per hour and an annual average salary of $246,320.

  • United Kingdom

An anesthetist in specialist training earned £28,976 per year. A consultant anesthetist earned an average of £73,403, while a senior consultant anesthetist earned an average of £173,000 yearly.

  • Australia

As at 2012, the starting salary of an anesthetist was an average of $125,000 per year; the average annual salary was $165,000, and the senior anesthetist’s salary was $215,000 per annum.

  • Canada
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As at 2015, Anesthesiologists in Canada earned an average of C$50.50 per hour and C$193,906 per year.

Educational Requirements for Becoming an Anesthesiologist

Before one can become an Anesthesiologist after the pre-requisites of high school, it takes quite a long time especially as they undergo extra trainings after the general medical residency.

  • In the United States, it will take about 13 years or more.
  • In the United Kingdom, it will take about 14 to 16 years.
  • In Australia, it takes about 16 to 19 years.
  • In Canada, it takes about 14 to 15 years.

An anesthesiologist is considered a doctor and would have to go through the same formal education as a doctor. The educational requirements before one can become an anesthesiologist after completing high school, or its equivalent are:

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  • Undergraduate Degree: Most medical schools require that applicants earn bachelor’s degree especially in pre-medical programs or major in natural science, which might take 4 years. The applicant must also prepare for Medical College, by taking, and passing the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
  • Medical School: In medical school, students gain knowledge on natural and specialized sciences for the first two years, and then concentrate on clinical studies and rotations, which also take an additional 2 years.
  • Residency Program: This is a medical internship where anesthesiologists complete a 4 year resident training, with the first year on either surgical or medical internship, and the next 3 years in anesthesiologists.
  • Fellowship: This is a sub-specialty in anesthesiology and doctors will have to decide if they would want to specialize in neurology, cardiology, pediatric and other such specialties. This takes 1 year for each sub-specialty and anesthesiologists that want to have more sub-specialties will have to take longer periods.
  • Licensing and Credentials: Before anesthesiologists can practice, a 3 step assessment is required from the U.S Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Step 1 and 2 can be taken in medical school, with the final step taken during residency.
  • During Residency, certifications are required for each specialty majored in.
  • The final step before an Anesthesiologist can become Board Certified is in passing the oral and written examination by American Board of anesthesiology (ABA). Board certifications can also be done for sub-specialties.
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  • Pre-medical or Foundation year: This is for those who do not have any qualification in science and is usually for 1 year.
  • Medical Degree: This is an undergraduate degree that takes a period of 5 years and is recognized by the General Medical Council (GMC)
  • Foundation Year (F1): This is a 1 year foundation program for newly medical graduates, so as to build on knowledge and skills gained whilst acquiring the medical degree. Provisional registration is gained from the General Medical Council (GMC), which later changes to full registration after a successful F1 completion.
  • Foundation Year (F2): This is another 1 year course where the students learn skill and competency in team work, managing patients with acute illness, and communication, this is the stage where specialty is chosen.
  • The student must also complete the MRCP (UK) exam.
  • Once the training is complete, the student can be fully registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) and make the career choice of specializing in anesthetics.
  • Certificate of Training (CCT) in Anesthetics: This is 7 years training program for trainees that want to take the core anesthesia route, or 8 years for those that will follow the Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS) route.
  • Completion of the training leads to an award of the CCT Certificate, which makes one eligible to join the GMC’s Specialist Register and apply for a Consultant Anesthetist post.
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  • University; All universities with an undergraduate medical degree might require either an ATAR of 99 in HSR (High School Rank) at the end of grade 12, high score in UMAT (Undergraduate Medical and Sciences Admission Test), or an Interview. Some universities offer 5 or 6 year undergraduate medical degree,
  • Medical school is completed, between 4 years for university graduates and 6 years for university undergraduates.
  • Internship is 1 year and includes rotations in medicine, emergency medicine, and surgery.
  • Residency can take 1 or many years and involves more hospital rotations. Some residents spend many years in residency before gaining entry into vocational training.
  • Vocational Training takes 5 years or more. It takes 5 years before one can complete a Fellowship of Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists.
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  • A University undergraduate program of 3 to 4 years has to be undertaken, before taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
  • Medical Schools are for 4 years, and then the student takes the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCEE) Part 1.
  • Residency is undertaken after passing the MCEE and must take place in an approved university by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. After the first year of residency, residents write the MCEE Part 2 exams. Residency lasts for 5 years, with the first year on basic clinical training.
  • After Residency, the candidate writes a comprehensive written and oral exam.
  • After completion of training, the anesthesiologist graduate can then become a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada and use the FRCPC title.
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Certifications Required to Be a Recognized Anesthesiologist

  • US-: The American Board of Medical Specialties Program issues a Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA)
  • UK-: Anesthetists can take a course in clinical key skills.
  • Australia-: One can take the Master of Medical Science Program in Anesthesiology.
  • Canada-: One can take the Area of Focus (AFC) Diploma credentialing.

How Much Does It Cost to Become an Anesthesiologist?

  • In U.S, MOCA costs from $2,100 every 10 years and $210 annual participation fees.
  • In the UK, the clinical key skills would cost £95
  • In Australia, the Master’s program costs $1,130
  • In Canada, the AFC costs $850

Can You Become an Anesthesiologist Online?

No, one cannot become an anesthesiologist by taking an online course. Anesthesiologists require practical experiences which cannot be gotten alone. Moreover, high school students rarely know what branch of medicine they would like to specialize in till during or after medical school.

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Career Opportunities for Anesthesiologists

  • Specialist Administrators: Specialist administrators are those responsible for the efficient operations in a specific department.
  • Management Consultants: Management consultants’ help organizations improve on their performance.
  • Career Coach: Career coaches counsel individuals on career changes. They also help physicians upgrade, and develop new sources of income for the doctors.
  • Financial Planner: This is an individual that prepares financial for people. Anesthesiologists with this skill can use it to help other physicians plan their finances.
  • Retail or manufacturing Business: Because of the calm and composed skill, anesthesiologists can become experts at handling businesses especially when tough situations arise.

Skills and Traits You Need to Become a Successful Anesthesiologist

  1. Communication Skills: Before surgery, the anesthesiologist has to ensure that he examines a patient’s medical records thoroughly. He also has to ask the patient certain questions explain his role in the medical procedures in a clear and concise manner, disclose any risk that might be involved, and calm any distress that the patient might show. Throughout the consultation with the patient, the anesthesiologist has to show empathy, and help make the patient feel as comfortable as possible. After surgery, the anesthesiologist communicates with the patient as regards what happened during surgery and answer any question the patient might have.
  2. Dexterity: An anesthesiologist must have good motor skills that will ensure that they are able to successful issue medicine to ease pain in before, during and after surgeries.
  3. Composure: Anesthesiologists must be able to work under pressure. They also must be able to remain calm in emergencies, while acting quickly.
  4. Attention to Detail: Anesthesiologists must pay attention to the dosages he is administering as an inappropriate one could lead to serious complications that might even result in death.
  5. Problem Solving Ability: The anesthesiologist has to be able to review information, and make a final decision which must be communicated to other physicians and anesthetist nurses during a surgery.
  6. Quick Thinking Skills: An anesthesiologist must be able to calculate the chemical factors that have gone into the body of the patient.
  7. Physical Stamina: Anesthesiologists need to be able to perform physical tasks like lifting different equipment. They also have to be able to stand for long periods, or bend over patients especially during surgery.
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Advice and Tips to Help Advance your Career as an Anesthesiologist

  • Professional and Personal Skills: For anesthesiologist doctors brushing up on professional and personal skills is likely to make the doctor more noticeable, thereby allowing for advancement.
  • Industry Awareness: This means that anesthesiologists have to be aware of what is going on in the industry either through their associations or other genuine channels, so as to be able to offer a standardized care to the patient.
  • Networking: Networking means linking with other professionals in the same specialty and field. Linking up could be through seminars, luncheons, and corporate events, held by the relevant professional body.
  • Social media tools: The internet is a great tool at advancing the career of an anesthesiologist, because it could be used to follow relevant figures in the industry, and also used for networking. Social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and personal blogs can also be used by anesthesiologists to put out helpful information about disease prevention and also dispense valuable information to other users.
  • Education: Advancing educationally either getting a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), or an MBA (Master of Business Administration), can help an anesthesiologist doctor advance their career. Advancement allows doctors go for supervisory, or management positions in the hospital.