In the operating room, surgeons take care of whatever ails the patient and anesthesiologists make sure that she feels no pain. Anesthesiologists administer different kinds of anesthetics while monitoring her vital signs so they remain stable and as strong as possible. Jobs for the profession are rewarding and in high demand.
To become an anesthesiologist, you start with a bachelor’s degree, as do all doctors. You then go through four years of medical or osteopathic school. Admissions are highly competitive, requiring good scores on the Medical College Admissions Test. After medical school and depending on your specialty, you then complete four to eight years of internships and residencies. All states mandate licensing before you can practice. You need to pass an exam and a background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice. Finally, you apply to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for authorization to prescribe drugs.
Anesthesiologists manage the pain of a patient before, during and after surgery, with the help of other operating room professionals. They constantly check life functions such as heart rate and breathing, which they rate based on the patient's medical history and the results of her diagnostic tests. They meet with other health-care staff to coordinate activities, work with surgeons to administer anesthetics, and record the type and amount of anesthesia used. They also provide life support, manage the patient’s breathing and airways, and decide when she is stable enough to go to another room after the operation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for all doctors, including anesthesiologists, will increase by 24 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than average. Demand will come from health-care industries that are growing to serve the needs of an aging baby-boom population. The elderly suffer from more conditions that require surgery, which in turn needs the services of anesthesiologists. The best opportunities will be for doctors willing to practice in rural and low-income areas, and for those who specialize in conditions affecting older populations.
2016 Salary Information for Physicians and Surgeons
Physicians and surgeons earned a median annual salary of $204,950 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, physicians and surgeons earned a 25th percentile salary of $131,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $261,170, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 713,800 people were employed in the U.S. as physicians and surgeons.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.