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Anesthesiologist Job Description

Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who administer anesthesia to patients. Anesthesia is given to patients to prevent them from experiencing pain during surgery, labor and delivery, and other medical procedures. Anesthesiologists monitor patients during surgery and adjust dosages of anesthesia when needed. Anesthesiologists must also be capable of making decisions about the proper anesthesia to administer for each patient and procedure, and be highly skilled in appropriate dosage amounts. Sometimes, anesthesiologists work with patients in pain management areas, administering pain medication to them.
Anesthesiologists work side by side with surgeons, operating room nurses and other members of surgical teams. Generally, anesthesiologists are employed in hospitals, but many work in outpatient surgical facilities. Because anesthesiologists often work in hospitals, their hours can be varied. Emergency surgeries and labors and deliveries of babies can occur around the clock; therefore, an anesthesiologist might work nights, weekends, and holidays.
When thinking about a career in anesthesiology, potential candidates should have excellent communication skills, since they will need to discuss procedures with patients who are often nervous about surgery. Anesthesiologists should also have theability to be compassionate towards their patients during difficult times, and they must also possess an attention to detail because of the extremely important nature of their work administering drugs.

Anesthesiologist Duties

On a daily basis, anesthesiologists might perform the following duties:

  • administer anesthesia to patients during surgery
  • explain anesthesia procedures and risks before surgery
  • monitor patients’ vital signs during surgery and make necessary adjustments to medications

How To Become An Anesthesiologist

Becoming an anesthesiologist involves many years of schooling and training. Potential anesthesiologists will need to complete a bachelor’s degree and take prerequisite medical and science courses. After successful completion of a bachelor’s degree, those interested in becoming an anesthesiologist will need to enroll in medical school and graduate with a degree in medicine. After medical school, anesthesiologists will need to complete a lengthy residency program and then pass state board exams.

How Long Does It Take To Become An Anesthesiologist?

It takes about 12 years to become an anesthesiologist. Four years are spent as an undergraduate earning a bachelor’s degree, four more years are spent in medical school, and then another four years are spent as a resident.

Education Requirements

Anesthesiologists must attend medical school, and being accepted into a medical program is a competitive process. First, prospective anesthesiologists must complete a bachelor’s degree. Although there is no required major for entrance into medical school, whatever major chosen, the student must be sure to complete prerequisite courses in biology and chemistry. There are degrees that are designated as pre-med, and majoring in pre-med will ensure that a student is adequately prepared to enter medical school.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, students will then apply to an accredited medical school. Medical schools are difficult to get into, so it is imperative that applicants have stellar undergraduate grades, work experience, volunteer work, and letters of recommendation. They also need to achieve excellent scores on the Medical College Entrance Exam (MCAT). Once accepted into a medical school, the arduous process of classwork and clinicals begins. Students will study various areas of medicine in the classroom and spend many hours performing clinical work in a hospital or doctor’s office. Coursework will often consist of classes in pharmacology, biology, and patient care. Clinicals are made up a number of mandatory rotations in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, and women’s health.
After graduating, anesthesiologists will need to complete a four year residency program, training for their future career as a doctor of anesthesiology. As a resident, medical school graduates who wish to become anesthesiologists spend a portion of their four years practicing general medicine, but the majority of their residency (usually three years) is spent training in anesthesiology.


Certification is not required for anesthesiologists, but it does demonstrate advanced skill and knowledge. Anesthesiologists can obtain certification through The American Board of Anesthesiology. The benefits of being certified include the possibility of more employment opportunities and a higher salary.
Certifications can also be earned by anesthesiologists in specialized areas of the field. They can become certified in such specialties as critical care medicine and pain medicine.


All anesthesiologists must be state licensed as medical doctors. There are stringent requirements for state licensing and applicants must complete several steps, including passing an exam. Every state is different in their licensing regulations, but in states where licensing is necessary, medical doctors must adhere to licensing renewal policies every few years.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for anesthesiologists is expected to be good. As in all fields of medicine, there is an increased need for anesthesiologists due to the portion of the population that is aging and will need surgery and other medical procedures. New healthcare legislation will make services available to more of the population as well. Between 2012 and 2022, it is projected that there will be an increase in employment for physicians and surgeons, including anesthesiologists, which equates to an 18% increase and 123,300 more jobs. Detailed Anesthesiologist salary data is available here.

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