Anesthesiologist Education Requirements

Find out the anesthesiologist education, training requirements, experience, and key skills required to advance your career and become qualified in anesthesiology.

Updated by Rakshitha N on 21st October 2020

Anesthesiology is an integral part while conducting a surgery where the patient is under medication to get no pain during the surgery. However, these specialists play diverse roles in addition to putting people to sleep. 

Anesthesiologists are specialized in treating patients during the surgical processes by assessing their conditions, dealing in emergencies, and advising patients about pain management. This profession has one of the highest salaries of about $388,300 a year and has a job growth of 4 percent, many students aim at becoming an anesthesiologist. This article guides about what it takes to become an anesthesiologist, the educational requirements, and residencies and expertise in this career. 

Anesthesiologist Education Requirements

Going straight, the steps to become an anesthesiologist are simply to help you meet the necessary qualifications to become an anesthesiologist. It is highly recommended to thoroughly read through these as they serve as the guiding light and make work easier. A student who successfully meets all these requirements is honored as an Anesthesiologist. They are categorized and detailed below.  

1. Prerequisites

To start with, there is no specific degree required to enter into a medical school as many baccalaureate programs lack in providing the necessary education to become an anesthesiologist. An undergraduate program will allow you to choose a pre-medical program that ensures you have acquired the prerequisites. Hence, under these degrees, you gain knowledge on the relevant majors such as biology, anatomy, zoology. If you prefer to choose another major, make sure you complete the prerequisite courses such as general and organic chemistry, physics, calculus, biology, and anatomy.

2. Degree concentrations

Anesthesiologists are expected to have vast knowledge in medical fields and surgical processes to handle any medical conditions. The concentrations they study plays an important role in inducing the required education.

  • The specific concentrations required are the management of airways and respiration, cardiovascular (heart) and pulmonary (lung) resuscitation, and the use of hemodynamic monitors to measure blood pressure.

  • An associate degree is a preliminary education to grab an entry-level job as an anesthesiologist. The coursework includes Microbiology, anatomy, physiology, and other to be completed within the 60 credits offered. 

  • Bachelor’s degree is a basic 4 years program which gives knowledge on Neurology, pharmacology,  and pain management.

  • A master’s degree is ideal for becoming a nurse anesthetist to perform clinical duties and assist anesthesiologists. The courses include the principle of anesthesia, anesthesia pharmacology. Ensure that the program you’ve chosen is accredited by The Council on Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs which helps you meet the educational standards and quality to land on a good job. 

3. Medical School

All the prospective students must apply for a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) program which is a 4-year competitive program offered by an accredited medical college to specialize in anesthesiology. 

  • To apply for a well-reputed college medical college, you must clear the Medical College Admissions Test which evaluates the candidate's abilities, knowledge and critical thinking skills.

  • Once you get accepted to the college you applied for, you begin the program accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). 

  • The Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) program is a 4-year full-time program that combines both in-person education as well as clinical learning. 

  • In the initial two years, students study microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, medical ethics, anatomy, and also experience their first contact with patients.

  • In the next half, students gain practical experience by treating patients and dealing with training in various branches such as pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, and anesthesiology. Students also perform duties such as planning treatments, examining the patient’s condition, performing preliminary diagnoses, and others. 

4. Anesthesiology Residency program

After graduating from a medical school, students are required to complete the 4-year residency program. In the 4 years term, the first year is dedicated to an internship in anesthesiology through clinical rotations followed by three years of training under experienced anesthesiologists. 

The roles and responsibilities of the intern are similar to anesthesiologists but they are supervised during the medical practices. Some specialties of anesthesiology practiced in the residency program are, 

  • Chronic and acute pain management

  • Pre-operative patient evaluation

  • Post-operative pain evaluation and control

  • Intensive care pain management

  • Pre-existing disease factors in surgical care

5. Subspecialties program

After completing the residency, many students choose to complete a subspecialty program in anesthesiology which is also termed as a fellowship. 

The subspecialties include, 

  • Cardiothoracic anesthesia

  • Critical care anesthesia

  • Neurosurgical anesthesia

  • Obstetric anesthesia

  • Regional anesthesia 

  • Pediatric anesthesia

  • Hospice and palliative anesthesia

Students can choose these specialties based on their interests and for skill enhancement. Some residents also chose to complete the fellowship after completing 3 years of the residency program.

6. Licensure and Certification

After completing the suitable education programs, earn a license to start working as an anesthesiologist. Learn about the state regulations on the license requirements as it varies. 

The three-level at which candidates can obtain their license are, 

  • U.S. Medical and Licensing Examination (USMLE): After graduating from an accredited medical school, individuals must take up this exam to obtain a medical license. The exam comprises three steps to evaluate the knowledge, skills and principles related to healthcare.

  • American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA)-  this board conducts a written and oral examination for certified anesthesiologist specialty and subspecialties such as critical care, pain medicine, and hospice. The 3 level exams are basic, advanced, and applied which you can apply based on your requirement.

7. Gain Experience

After meeting the necessary qualifications and educational requirements you possess high earning potentials. But your experience defines your credibility to a higher position. After obtaining your license, you could settle at a job and obtain certification to specialize in diverse categories to advance your career. 

We suggest you to continue higher education to keep up with the latest technologies and trends.

8. Skills required to become an Anesthesiologist

There are many anesthesiologists currently, primarily due to its popularity and lucrative nature. Your knowledge is refecting by how you perform at your workplace, hence to stand out among the other you must possess additions kills. These skills add as badges to your portfolio, ushering opportunities that can land you in your dream job. Here are a few skills that can help you outshine your fellow Anesthesiologists :  

  • Oral and written communication skills 

  • Attention to detail

  • Technically sound

  • Proactive learning

  • Problem-solving and critical thinking

  • Empathetic and Compassionate

  • Computer knowledge

  • Dexterity and physical stamina

Conclusion

The healthcare industry is booming at a large scale due to the increasing population and the advent of advanced treatments. Among the increasing professions, anesthesiology is important in every surgical process to produce a loss of sensation. Hence with the increasing job opportunities, students can aim at meeting these educational requirements and prosper in this career.