An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy who specializes in administering anesthetics during medical procedures, such as during surgery. Anesthetics are drugs or gasses that cause the patient to not feel any pain. Some forms of anesthesia also cause the patient to lose consciousness for as long as the anesthesia is administered. A doctor who wants to specialize in anesthesiology must complete rigorous training.
Before you go to medical school and start training to become an anesthesiologist, you must get a bachelor’s degree. While there are no specific majors that one must have to be admitted to medical school, there are certain courses that are expected. The most important courses to take are in chemistry and biology. These include biochemistry, molecular genetics, anatomy and physiology. A person who is inclined to go to medical school is also advised to take as many of these science courses as possible and to get good grades in them. Other important courses include physics, calculus and classes in the social sciences. As important as sciences courses are, it is also important to have a well-rounded education.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, the next step toward becoming an anesthesiologist is medical school. Medical school usually lasts four years and includes two years of intense coursework followed by licensing exams, and then two years of additional coursework combined with rotations in various hospitals in clinics where actual patient care and observation occurs. It is during years three and four that students usually determine their chosen medical specialty and apply to residency programs that match those interests. An additional licensing exam occurs near the end of year four.
During the fourth year of medical school, students begin interviewing for a residency, which is basically an on-the-job learning period. Once medical school and licensing exams are complete, students move on to their residency programs. For a doctor who wants to become an anesthesiologist, this involves approximately three years in a general residency program followed by an additional four years in an anesthesiologist fellowship.
All doctors, including anesthesiologists, are required to continue their education for as long as they are practicing medicine. Continuing education credits are required to keep the licence current and to continue working in the field. The requirements vary depending on the state in which the doctor is licensed. In Pennsylvania, for example, anesthesiologists are required to get 100 credit hours of continuing education credits every two years.
Amy Whitmyre has been a writer for more than 10 years. Her career experience also includes work as an educator and market researcher and a librarian in the legal and medical fields. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in library science and is currently working on a Master of Science in education.