If you're interested in going into the medical field, there are many different types of careers you can try and pursue. Whether it's a doctor or a nurse, a surgeon or a specialist, the options are truly endless. No matter what you choose, you'll be doing something meaningful to help others while also making a very decent living for yourself. One particular branch of medicine that people decide to go into for various reasons is anesthesiology. If this is something that you decide you want to pursue, there are some excellent universities in the United States that offer great medical programs in which you can begin your journey toward becoming an anesthesiologist. However, before going down this path, you must make sure that this is something you want to do. After all, the process is long and expensive.

What Is an Anesthesiologist?

Have you ever needed to have a surgery in which you were put to sleep? If you remember being able to fall asleep and not feel a thing and then wake up a few hours later without any major complications, that's all thanks to the hard work of an anesthesiologist. Anesthesiologists are responsible for quite a few different things, but ultimately, their main duties involve coming up with an anesthetic plan for a patient and administering the anesthesia to the patient when it comes time for surgery.

If you're wondering, "How many years do you have to go to school to be an anesthesiologist?" the answer is many. In order to become an anesthesiologist, you must first obtain a bachelor's degree, then you must go on to four years of medical school, a year of internship and then a three-year residency before being able to practice as an anesthesiologist. Of course, it may not always be done in this precise order – some anesthesiologists have a year of fellowship after their residency – but overall, you will have to dedicate many years of your life to school if you are passionate about becoming a doctor.

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Are Anesthesiologists Doctors?

Just because an anesthesiologist's job may be a little bit different than a regular physician, they are absolutely doctors. When you become an anesthesiologist, you become an M.D. or D.O. in the field. Although patients may never even see their anesthesiologist before going through a surgery, they can be sure that the anesthesiologist will be there throughout the entire procedure to make sure the patient is stable and safe.

An anesthesiologist will monitor the patient's heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and whether or not it seems as though the patient is exhibiting any signs of pain or discomfort during the surgery. Anesthesiologists are very skilled doctors who need to be precise and careful about what they are doing with each and every patient to whom they attend. After all, a mistake on their end can have very drastic effects on the patient.

What Are the Skills Needed to Be an Anesthesiologist?

If you go to school to ultimately become an anesthesiologist, you will learn many of the skills you need for the job there, but also, you will learn the skills that are required of medical professionals in general. It is only after quite a few years of medical school that you will be able to actually begin the training for becoming an anesthesiologist. That being said, there's no doubt that certain doctors must possess specific skills in addition to being successful in their education courses and medical practice, including:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • The ability to work under pressure
  • Coordination
  • Multitasking
  • Be able to pay attention to detail
  • Complex problem solving
  • Decision-making abilities
  • Management skills

What Bachelor's Degree Is Best for Anesthesiology?

If you want to become an anesthesiologist, you will first need to go to a four-year college and pursue a bachelor's degree in a field that will best prepare you for this career path. Many schools have a pre-med program that will guide you to enroll in the courses that are best aligned with a career in medicine. These are courses like biology, organic chemistry and physics.

If you're really serious about becoming an anesthesiologist or working in the medical field in general, then you should only apply for a four-year program in pre-med. If the school you want to go to doesn't have a pre-med program, then you can major in something in the sciences, such as biology or chemistry. This program should have the coursework that's necessary to help you get into medical school, so you should take a look at various medical school requirements to see what courses you'll need to take in your undergraduate program.

That being said, you can really declare any major – even art or English – and as long as you have the prerequisites for medical school, you shouldn't have an issue getting in. In fact, some medical schools prefer that their applicants have a diverse background, as there is already a lot of cookie-cutter competition among medical school candidates. This is a great idea for students who aren't totally sure that they want to become an anesthesiologist or another type of doctor, but they still want to at least keep the option on the table. Whatever the case may be, a bachelor's degree is absolutely necessary if you want to get into medical school.

Why Become an Anesthesiologist?

There are many reasons as to why a person would want to become an anesthesiologist or another type of doctor, but in case you need some convincing, there are some major selling points to this career path. First and foremost, an anesthesiologist is one of the highest-paid medical professionals in the entire field. An anesthesiologist can earn up to $450,000 a year. On average, though, they make closer to $270,000. Of course, what you make as an anesthesiologist depends on the state in which you're working, the hospital in which you're working, and how long you've been practicing. You may also be able to get a higher salary if you pursue an additional specialty in addition to anesthesiology, such as pediatric anesthesiology.

Besides the money, an anesthesiologist has a lot to offer a hospital, and people rely on them, whether that's their patients, family of the patients or other doctors in the hospital. If you are wondering, _"_Are anesthesiologists in demand?" the answer is always "yes." Until humanity finds another way to put people out during surgery so that they don't feel pain, anesthesiologists will be in demand for a very long time. All this considered, even though working as any kind of doctor is a challenging job, it's important to remember that an anesthesiologist's job is extremely difficult and demanding. There's very little room for error when you are an anesthesiologist.

The 10 Best Colleges for Anesthesiology

There are many medical schools throughout the United States that offer programs in all different kinds of medical fields. That being said, there's no such thing as a school having a specific medical program because the student will enter medical school and then later choose his specialty. However, some medical schools are known for pushing out more board-certified doctors in a certain field than others. According to U.S. News & World Report's best medical schools ranking, the top 10 best colleges for anesthesiology are simply just some of the best medical schools in the country:

  1. Harvard
  2. University of California San Francisco
  3. Johns Hopkins University
  4. UPenn
  5. Duke University
  6. University of Michigan Ann Arbor
  7. Washington University in St. Louis
  8. Columbia University
  9. Stanford University
  10. Mayo Clinic School of Medicine

The Best Anesthesiology Residency Programs

After you graduate from medical school, you will become a resident of anesthesiology as long as you have been matched to an anesthesiology residency. It's important to keep in mind that sometimes students don't always get matched in the field that they truly desire. If this happens, then you may need to fall back on another specialty in the medical field.

Your residency will last three years, and you will get paid as you work as a resident. Most of the time, you won't get to choose where you go as a resident. You'll choose which hospitals you want to go to, and you will hopefully get matched based on what the decision makers feel is the best fit for you and what is the best fit for the hospital. After you finish your residency, you can decide to stay in the same hospital or practice if there is a job opening available, or you can go somewhere else to work. You may also continue to specialize in something further.

The ranking of best residency programs has a lot to do with how many people working in the hospital are board certified. However, no matter where you go, your residency is a crucial part of your schooling toward becoming an anesthesiologist. Likewise, an anesthesiologist resident is just as critical to any hospital, and you'll surely make a difference no matter where you go. That being said, there are some programs that rank better than others:

  • University of California
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Stanford
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital

Other Anesthesiologist Requirements

As if schooling and work experience weren't enough, those who want to become an anesthesiologist will have to fulfill other requirements before they can practice as an official doctor. If you want to practice medicine in the state in which you live, you must be licensed to practice medicine in your state after graduating from medical school and completing your residency. You will also need to pass all portions of the ABA exam, which is the American Board of Anesthesiology exam, in order to have a long and promising career in anesthesiology.

While in the past many doctors have gotten away with not having passed their board, that's becoming less common. After all, in order to become a doctor, you must complete your residency and graduate from medical school. That being said, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, more than 75 percent of anesthesiologists are board certified. Therefore, it's highly recommended that you pursue and prioritize passing your board examinations above everything else.

Anesthesiologist College Cost

Even though anesthesiologists are essentially guaranteed to make a lot of money once they start working, the initial investment is quite expensive. Many students have to take out loans to be able to pay for their schooling and will have to spend several years paying back their loans after completing their studies.

Though prices differ from one program to another, those hoping to become successful anesthesiologists will likely accumulate several hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt in order to become a doctor, starting from when they begin their studies in undergraduate school. It all depends on where you study, how long it takes you and how much tuition you're able to afford without taking out loans. Plus, this doesn't necessarily include the cost of paying for living expenses, exam costs and things like malpractice insurance. Therefore, it's important to really commit to this career path once you start it.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.