Anesthesiologists are Medical Doctors (MDs) that focus on the care of surgical patients and pain relief by administering anesthesia. As is the case with other doctors, anesthesiologists evaluate and treat patients and coordinate the efforts of their staff members. Some of the primary responsibilities of an anesthesiologist include meeting with patients to decide what type of anesthetic is required, communicating all pertinent treatment information to the appropriate medical practitioners as well as the patients at times, and administering intravenous, local, and/or spinal anesthetic to patients. Other job responsibilities of an anesthesiologist may include recording the amount and type of anesthesia being administered, maintaining the patient's vitals (i.e. blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and breathing) through ongoing assessment and monitoring and throughout a surgery, and conferring with other surgeons and physicians to determine the condition of a patient before, during, and after they've been sedated.

Students interested in this medical specialty have to be dedicated to a participating in continuing education throughout the duration of their career in order to stay current with the ever evolving nature of pain management and anesthesiology. To become a successful anesthesiologist, students must excel academically, be very detailed-oriented, calm in stressful situations, and caring in order to ease patient's anxiety - which is quite common when facing surgery and sedation.

Most anesthesiologists work in outpatient surgical centers and hospitals. Other job opportunities for anesthesiologists may be found in group and private and practices, academic medical centers, urgent care centers, and in the military. As with most other medical careers, anesthesiology work requires long and hectic hours. Most anesthesiologists work up to 60 hours a week or more.

Education and Training

Those interested in launching a career as an anesthesiologist are required to complete a premedical program (typically a bachelors degree program in one of the sciences) at an accredited college or university. These programs, as is the case with most bachelor degree programs, are four years in length and are very rigorous. Following completing of an undergraduate degree program, students must then pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school. The application process may require a personal interview, additional applications, or further testing.

Upon graduation from medical school, an aspiring anesthesiologist then spends four more years in an anesthesiology residency program (there are approximately 160 anesthesiology medical residency programs based throughout the United States). Some residency programs require one more full year of study, called a fellowship, in a specific anesthesiology specialty such as pain medicine, critical care medicine, research or education. During residency training, anesthesiologists typically work toward earning a certification from the American Society of Anesthesiologists or the American Board of Anesthesiology.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for anesthesiologists, as well as doctors in general, is predicted to be extremely promising as the U.S. population is growing and an increasing number of people will need more doctors in order to fulfill their health care needs. While there aren't specific employment statistics for the anesthesiology specialty, opportunities for physicians are estimated to increase 10% - 20% over the next ten years. Specialty physicians, such as anesthesiologists, can look forward to the largest increase in employment due to patient demand for access to specialty medical care. Evolving technology will also be partially responsible for an increase in employment opportunities for anesthesiologists. As anesthesiologists are able to perform more complex procedures due to new technology, they will have the ability to treat conditions that were previously considered untreatable.

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