What is an anesthesiologist?
This is a medical professional who administers anesthetics to patients in a hospital or outpatient setting when they are having a medical procedure done where they need to either be asleep or have a certain area of their body numb while the procedure is being done. Anesthetics is the medication that is used to cause a reversible loss of sensation or causes anesthesia which means they are helping a patient minimize discomfort, shock, and pain during the medical procedure.
Job description of an anesthesiologist
When you become an anesthesiologist you will be providing surgical assistance to the surgeon by giving the patient medication to help relieve the patient’s pain during the medical procedure. One of the major jobs of being an anesthesiologist is before the patient has the medical procedure you would meet with the patient to inform them of the anesthetic effect it would have on them. You would also tell the patient the duration of action before preparing them for surgery or any other type of medical procedures. It is also the job of the anesthesiologist to determine just what the appropriate amount of anesthetic they will need for the medical procedure. It varies from patient to patient and in order to get the appropriate anesthetic you would look at their medical condition. An anesthesiologist would also discuss the case with a consultant specialist physician. An anesthesiologist must also be familiar with the surgical or medical procedure that is being done.
How to become an anesthesiologist?
The path to become an anesthesiologist requires at least twelve years of post-secondary education. If you have decided during high school that you want to become an anesthesiologist you should take as many science classes as possible. An anesthesiologist is considered a physician so you would have to have the same formal medical education that any physician would. When getting your undergraduate degree you should enroll in a pre-medical program or major in natural science which can include biology, chemistry, microbiology, etc. Before being accepted in a medical school you will have to take the Medical College Admission Test. Once accepted into medical school you will have 4 years of schooling with the first two years building on your knowledge of natural sciences along with adding more specialized sciences to your schedule. You will also have your first patient contact when you begin to learn how to conduct interviews and examinations of patients.
During the second two years you will mainly concentrate on clinical studies. Normally you will take part in 4 to 12 week clinical rotations giving you introductions to the different branches of medicine. Some of the clinical rotations will be in geriatrics, pediatrics, anesthesiology, and oncology. At this time you will be referred to as an intern and will be working under the supervision of residents or attending physicians. You would interact with patients doing preliminary diagnoses, making a treatment plan, and then presenting this information to your supervisor.
The next step in becoming an anesthesiologist is to complete a 4 year resident training program after you have graduated from medical school. During the first year you will do either a surgical or medical internship. The next 3 years you will have training in anesthesiology. In residency you are no longer considered an intern so the expectations for performance are considerably higher. Although you will still practice under supervision you will diagnose and treat patients along with participating in rounds and present research and cases to supervising physicians and professors.
Some of the specialized elements of anesthesiology that are taught and practiced during your residency include:
- Pre-operative patient evaluation
- Intensive care pain management
- Acute and chronic pain management
- Post-operative pain control and evaluation
- Pre-existing disease factors in surgical care
After 4 years of residency you will need to complete another twelve months in a sub-specialty referred to as a fellowship. It is a subset of anesthesiology like obstetric, neurologic, pediatric, critical care, or cardiac. There are some who will complete more than one fellowship year so they can have more sub-specialties. To become an anesthesiologist there are 3 levels of credentialing that you must have, in addition to a license to practice medicine, and are state based. These are:
- Passing the U.S, Medical and Licensing Examination (USMLE). You will need this license in order to practice medicine in the United States
- During residency you majored in various specialties which require further certification for each one.
- To be able to use the title Board Certified Anesthesiologist you will need to pass the oral and written examination administered by The American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA). You can also receive board certification in sub-specialties of pain medicine, palliative medicine, hospice, and critical care by taking and passing exams administer by the ABA.
Work environment and schedule
An anesthesiologist would normally work in a hospital or outpatient setting and will usually work a wide variety of hours. An anesthesiologist may work day shift, work night shift, or even split shifts. Depending on whom you are working for you may even be needed to work weekends and be on call, especially if you are working for a hospital. Many anesthesiologist will work well beyond the “normal” forty hour week. It is not unusual that some work 60 hours or more. The reason that your work schedule can vary is that the skills you have are vital for any medical procedure or surgery.
Although most anesthesiologist work in either an outpatient clinic or hospital there are some who do work in a physician’s office. Many who work for a physician do so in a group practice. The work environment is sterile and clean. Working as an anesthesiologist can be a demanding job as you are responsible for keeping the patient pain free and comfortable.
On an average day an anesthesiologist will:
- Meet with the patient prior to the surgery to let them know what will take place
- Remain with the patient in surgery or during the medical procedure the entire time it takes to complete the procedure providing support and monitoring the patient to ensure that they are not feeling pain and are comfortable. You will also monitor their vital signs to make sure that the vital signs remain steady because if they do not it could indicate that there is a problem. If you notice their vitals are not remaining steady you would inform the surgeon who is doing the surgery or medical procedure so they can address the issue. Another reason that you would be required to remain with the patient for the duration of the medical procedure is in case the patient has an adverse reaction to the medication that they are using.
- You would also monitor the patient after the procedure and record the condition of the patient during these times.
- Before administrating the anesthesia to the patient the anesthesiologist would record the type and amount of anesthesia the patient was given according to many factors about the patient including their weight and any other health problems they may have. They would also make notes as to how well the patient is doing with the amount of anesthesia they were given and if there we any adverse effects before, during, and after the procedure.
- Confer with the surgeons or physicians about the post-procedure condition of the patient after the medical procedure or surgery is done.
- You would also be responsible for any residents you have working with you at that time along with nurse anesthesiologists.
- Administer intravenous, local, or spinal anesthetic.
Being an anesthesiologist means that you have the sole responsibility in the decision making process. When you become an anesthesiologist it can mean that at times you could be on your feet for a long period of time. You should also have good managerial skills and have an eye for detail as you will be keeping records of the amount of medication you administered, how the patient tolerated it, if there were any adverse reactions etc.
Pros and Cons of being an anesthesiologist
Working as an anesthesiologist has its advantages and disadvantages, it’s a career that only those who are very ambitious and have this dream to achieve it can follow this path. You will have to consider all the required costs that apply for the educational path. Costs are linked to the medical school that you are going to enter, but other costs may also apply. You should also keep an eye on the work environment and the liability insurance.
For instance, a professional who found a job as an anesthesiologist will have to be on call many times due to the various cases that appear. The pro aspect in this scenario is that they have a very flexible schedule. Such a schedule is good for those that are single, but quite hard for those who already have families. Still, having to work like this gives you the satisfaction to be able to provide the best care for patients who end up in intensive care, emergency surgeries, labor and delivery of the babies.
Your work environment, for instance, is one of the cons that apply. You’ll work as a team, building up relationships with other specialists such as physicians, and you’ll have to face all sorts of difficulties. In the emergency situations, there will be hours of continuous stress, and you’ll have to be calm, so that you can fulfill your duties as an anesthesiologist. Working with patients is a rewarding but difficult job at the same time, their lives are in your hands when it comes to pain or surgery situations.
The benefit that will come out of this job, except having to be there and be a support for the patients, is the advantage of earning a very good salary. The average hourly wage for an anesthesiologist in the US will reach the amount of $101.86 with an average salary that reaches $211,754 per year. The cons are that every anesthesiologist needs to have liability insurance that is costly, not to mention the four years for obtaining a bachelor’s degree and three years for a residency program which will cost as well. However, an anesthesiology work will always be seen as a rewarding career from many points of view especially for that of helping someone who was in need.
Anesthesiologist job growth
The employment growth for all physicians and surgeons as well as anesthesiologists is projected at 18% according to BLS. The general career outlook looks very promising and is growing since a large part of people in the US are in need of more physicians that will deal with their health care needs.
The employment opportunities are increasing due to the number of demanding for specialty professionals and in part due to the evolving technology. Since these professionals are starting to perform various complex procedures with the new technology, they will be able to treat as well other conditions that were considered previously with no cure at all. There is plenty of job security within this field due to the nature of the job itself.
What the salary would be depends on the state you are practicing in, where you are employed, and any sub-specialties you may have, and number of years of experience. On average an anesthesiologist will earn $232,830 annually. The approximate annual anesthesiologist salary you would receive if you are employed:
- In medical universities or schools would be $139,490
- In public sectors would be $197,000
- In an outpatient care center would be $225,360
- In a specialty hospital would be $229,400
- In the offices of physicians would be $241,910
If you are self employed your approximate annual salary would be $316,500. One factor that can help determine your average annual anesthesiologist salary would be your academic background. If you graduated from the University of Pennsylvania you could make $245,659 to $330,644. If your degree comes from the Johns Hopkins University you could make $160,000 to $340,129. Graduating from Harvard Medical School it would be $98,264 to $361,014, With annual salaries ranging from $166,000 to $200,000 the best paying states include Washington, New Jersey, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Missouri.
When looking at the salaries you need to know that many anesthesiologist also receive a benefit package that can include paid vacations, sick days, 401K, life and medical insurance which could include your family, malpractice insurance, vision and dental care, social security, pension, profit sharing and you may even be reimbursed for your uniforms. If you decide to go back to school to become certified in another subfield of anesthesiology your employer may even reimburse you for all or part of your tuition. If you are require being on call you may also be supplied with a cell phone or receive a stipend on your own cell phone monthly bills.
Salary of an anesthesiologist in 2015
In the US, the anesthesiologist jobs are remarkably well paid due to the long hours of work, the importance of this specialty among the other professionals of healthcare. Payments are great also due to the pressure of having some cases where not everything went well. For 2015, with the demand growing, the salary will start to increase due to the many risk factors and internal pressure. For this year, an anesthesiologist gains a salary that reaches $237,100 in the US, and the figures will continue to grow. Each salary will be different according to the setting in which an anesthesiologist works, the geographical location and the number of demanding.
Anesthesiologist Salary in 2016
The income of an anesthesiologist in the US, for the year 2016 has an estimated average that usually reaches at $275,744 per year, according to the data survey salary offered by PayScale. The starting point in the earnings of these professionals is estimated at $102,921 and goes up to $397,421. The bonuses that are granted in this field can reach up to $61,972 while the profit sharing can range from $3,445 and $55,371. This will lead in the end to a total payment for anesthesiologists that is comprised from $102,618 per year and $408,873 per year.
The major factor for this group that affects the yearly incomes is the years of experience in the field. For instance, those situated at an entry-level in their career with 1 and up to 4 years in the field can expect to take home earnings that are comprised between $98,265 and $356,352. Anesthesiologists that already have between 5 to 9 years of experience at the working site can expect to take home earnings that range between $146,255 and $362,410.
The more you advance within the field, the more the salary grows. Anesthesiologists that are in their late-career with more than 20 years of experience at work tend to receive earnings that range from $147,951 per year and up to $399,112 per year.
Other factors that affect and influence the incomes of these professionals are the geographical location, subspecialty as well as the type of employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who found work within physicians’ offices can expect at a mean yearly wage that reaches at $241,912 per year while those hired in outpatient care centers can expect to earnings situated at $225,362 per year.
The salaries for anesthesiologists as seen earlier vary from facility to facility and work setting to work setting. Working with universities, colleges or professionals schools as an anesthesiologist will lead you to incomes situated at $131,892 per year.
When it comes to the geographical factor, the earnings of these professionals vary from state to state being also influenced by the costs of living and the living expenses. An anesthesiologist working in New York can expect at earnings that usually range between $58,984 and $358,751 while those located in Florida can expect to make between $122,340 and $393,556 according to PayScale.
Anesthesiology salary in Canada, Australia and UK
- In the UK what an anesthesiologist would make each year depends on the number of years they have been in practice. Starting out you would make £16,395 and with more than one year in practice you would earn £199,828. If you have been in practice 6 to 10 years you would receive £205,113. If you have been in practice more than 10 years you would receive more than £234,265.
- In Canada the annual salary would be between 95,094 CAD to 171,258 CAD with the average salary being 137,010. Most anesthesiologist in Canada work in a hospital setting. There are some who are paid by contract instead of having a yearly salary. When being paid by contract it means that the anesthesiologist would be paid a set amount of money and for a set amount of time.
- In Australia the annual salary would be between AUD$100,000 to AUD$196,527.
Conclusion on anesthesiologist salary
Yes, it can take a long time to become a board certified anesthesiologist but in the end the salary more than compensates you, especially you are board certified in a subspecialty like:
- In anesthesia with an annual salary between $120,000 to $347,351
- In critical care with an annual salary between $245.659 to $356,078
- In pain management with an annual salary between $98,633 to $378,825
One thing to note is that though you are seeing these large dollar amounts for annual anesthesiologist salaries you need to realize that in order to get these high paying salaries you will need to specialize in one or more specialties, find a job in a high paying field, and gain experience. On average an anesthesiologist just starting out would earn a yearly salary of less than $100,000 but it does increase.
Before choosing where you want to work look at the benefit package they are offering to you. This benefit package can help to make up the lower salary you are offered. In conclusion the benefit package and the salary will help to offset the amount of time you had to give to become an anesthesiologist is a fair exchange. Yes, to become an anesthesiologist it can take twelve or more years but the job outlook for anesthesiologists is on the rise and is a good field of medicine to get into.
- First Published Date: 2 September, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 23 August, 2016