Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who specialize in the administration of anesthesia, putting patients to sleep for surgery, applying local anesthetics and sedating patients. After college, they go on to medical school, internship, residency and perhaps a medical fellowship, just as doctors in other specialties do. A variety of undergraduate degrees and programs may prepare students for future study in anesthesiology.
Medical School Requirements
Entry into medical school requires a good science background of undergraduate study. Specific coursework may vary depending upon the medical school, but most demand one year each of biology, anatomy and physiology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics along with one biochemistry class. Most of these sciences need laboratory components. You may also need specific math courses such as calculus and perhaps a genetics class. Since anesthesiologists must attend medical school, any majors that allow for these classes is appropriate at the undergraduate level since the coursework is more important than the specific major.
Some colleges and universities offer a pre-med, pre-medicine or pre-healthcare major appropriate for those planning to become anesthesiologists. Such majors clearly focus on science courses to fulfill the medical school entrance requirements and may include other medical topics such as medical terminology, immunology, psychology and histology. Clinical experience may also be allowed, giving future anesthesiologists some real-world practice in a medical situation. Few schools allow students literally to choose "pre-med" as a major; however, schools will allow students to focus a major toward medical school requirements.
At schools without a pre-med major, students wishing to become anesthesiologists often major in biology since the major includes much of the information needed for medical school admission. Biology majors should select classes carefully to meet those medical school requirements. Some schools outline a course plan for biology majors planning to go to medical school, focusing on not only biology classes but also general chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus and physics. A biology major gives future anesthesiologists a good base of understanding the human body.
Other majors also may be a good fit for anesthesiologists. Since the science base, overall GPA and interest in medicine carry more weight than the particular undergraduate major does, students may select a variety of majors. Many students select chemistry. As long as you take three years of biology as electives, a chemistry major may result in higher GPA and more interesting study. Pepperdine University explains that math majors find high acceptance into medical schools. Wofford College indicates that undergraduate students intending to enter medical school often double major, combining a science with a humanities in order to create a well-rounded base.