Anesthesiologist: Education Requirements and Beyond
A career as an anesthesiologist is rewarding and one that allows for financial and personal growth. From health assessments through observation to delivering strategic decisions, the position demands a high-level of patient care before, during and after surgical or other medical procedures.
Due to specializations and the necessity to have a comprehensive knowledge base, anesthesiologist education requirements are extensive. They often total around 8+ years with another 4+ years of training. Additional programs, licensure requirements and skill acquisitions may increase that time.
While the qualifications can be difficult to receive, the benefits are immense. Anesthesiologists are a respected profession, and one that is essential to the needs of patients. According to 2021 statistics, it is also among the most highly compensated positions, particularly within the United States where the median annual salary is $395,900 and the upper 90 percentile earning over $496,000. The career field is also in high demand. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), by 2033, a shortfall of approximately 140,000 physicians is expected, with around 10 % of those positions listed as anesthesiologists.
Anesthesiologist Degree Requirements
The information provided in this article highlights examples of what it takes to become a licensed anesthesiologist.
If you are considering a career as anesthesiologist, your track of study will include precursors, anesthesiologist degree requirements, residency, specialization, and certification.
The ideal candidate will have a strong attention to detail, core analytical and problem-solving skills, a willingness to quickly adapt to changing situations and the ability to efficiently communicate.
All of these attributes will be necessary across the completion of the following anesthesiologist education requirements:
Aspiring anesthesiologist candidates begin their training as early as junior high and high school. In these settings, students generally take an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Particularly attractive are areas of science like Physics, Chemistry, Biology and if offered, Advanced Placement courses and extra curriculars surrounding the sciences.
Some students may enroll in a junior college upon high school graduation and earn an Associate’s Degree with a focus on anatomy and/or physiology, among other areas of study. This degree is often used by others in the anesthesia fields, such as anesthesiologist assistants and anesthesiologist technicians.
A four-year bachelor’s degree provides the foundation for higher education as an anesthesiologist. While there is not a specific degree that all candidates earn, some of the most common include:
- Health or Physical Sciences
- Liberal Arts degrees (with science courses completed)
- Pre-Medical programs (if offered)
Regardless of the undergraduate degree selected, candidates are encouraged to graduate toward the top of their class, as the selection requirements for medical school can be extremely competitive.
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Students focused on the anesthesiologist education requirements will study for and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be considered by medical education institutions. The MCAT is one component that medical school’s review to determine the abilities of the student.
This test examines biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, chemical and physical foundations of biological systems, psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior, and critical analysis and reasoning skills.
While aspiring anesthesiologists complete the exam when they are ready, it is generally taken the year prior to medical school enrollment.
Accepted students who enroll in medical school complete four-years of medical education to normally earn either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) designation. Competition increases in medical school to receive a prestigious internship and residency. The initial two years surround classroom and lab study, with a continued focus on these areas and several others:
- Medical Ethics
The following two years will include patient-centered experience. While the initial medical school experience may include patient-care, the culmination involves patient examination, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery assistance.
During school and prior to graduation, students are also required to pass a number of exams. At the conclusion of the first two years, the Step 1 certification exam under American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) and/or the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) exam must be passed. Step 2 of the ABA exam must be passed, following clinical training. Another requirement is the completion of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX), a series of federal exams administered to examine fundamental skills.
Following the completion of anesthesiology degree requirements, medical school graduates are placed into a four-year residency program to learn under experienced anesthesiologists and other medical professionals.
They begin the experience with a year-long internship, receiving first-hand training in a hospital, clinic or other medical facility. A supervised internship expands into a residency for the remaining three years, where the resident completes critical rotations and may explore specializations under continued guidance. During the initial year, interns will need to pass the third and final board-level exam.
Some anesthesiologists elect to continue the pursuit of a specialization, studying and practicing a subset of a field. This is often completed after the residency and may include any of the following specialties:
- Cardiothoracic anesthesiology
- Obstetric anesthesiology
- Pediatric anesthesiology
- Critical care anesthesiology
- Regional anesthesiology
Other Certification Requirements
Each of the board certification bodies have program requirements, so the listed examination and program process may vary slightly for each candidate:
- ABA certification entails a one-year anesthesia internship, a one-year fellowship or two years in private practice and examination completions (3 exams total).
- ABPS certification requires candidates meet a number of eligibility requirements and complete a written and oral exam.
- All required documentation must be submitted by stated deadlines (e.g., case reports).
- State licensure must be obtained and requirements vary by state.
- Licensed anesthesiologists must complete continuing education and maintain updated skills in specializations.
Apply for Anesthesiologist Jobs
Once you’ve completed all of the anesthesiologist education requirements, as well as necessary licensure and certifications, it’s time to begin your rewarding career. Some employers may request you work under the supervision of an experienced anesthesiologist for a year. If you chose to enter the field prior to obtaining a specific specialization, you may also complete any necessary certification once you begin in your position.
AerMed Logistix is here to help you succeed. We believe in assisting anesthesiologists with their career search so they land in a facility where they can make a difference. You’ll be able to apply for positions that offer exceptional compensation, benefits, and the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in the field.
Contact us today to get started. Let’s talk about your career goals so you can turn your medical aspirations into a reality.