What does an anesthesiologist do? Anesthesiologists are doctors who sedate patients and monitor them during medical procedures. They are trained to administer the proper doses of drugs, to minimize a patient’s pain and discomfort.

Postoperative care provided by these professionals includes prescribing medication, and assessing patients to detect complications or reactions to drugs. Anesthesiologists help create and implement pain-management plans.

They work in hospitals, the offices of doctors and dentists, outpatient surgery facilities, and pain-management clinics. They administer drugs to relieve the pain of patients in intensive care and delivery rooms, as well as those suffering from chronic pain. Some are employed as researchers and teachers.

Anesthesiologist Job Description

Anesthesiologists meet with patients before surgery, or other medical procedures, to discuss their medical history and assess their physical condition. Diagnostic tests, including x-rays, may need to be ordered to examine patients and ensure are fit for surgery.

Consulting with doctors and other medical staffers, an anesthesiologist determines the appropriate treatments and procedures, which must be explained to patients. Drugs are administered with the use of local, intravenous, spinal, and caudal techniques.

During operations, anesthesiologists remain by the patients’ sides. They keep a close eye on the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and other vital signs. Alterations in the delivery of drugs are made as warranted.

Anesthesiologists decide when patients are ready to be moved after an operation, then work with them to manage their pain and any reactions to the surgery. These professionals also determine when it is safe for patients to return to their hospital rooms or their homes. Postoperative care involves periodic examinations, and medication to reduce pain and discomfort.

The job duties of an anesthesiologist entails the following:
  • Interview patients to learn their medical histories
  • Examine patients and perform diagnostic tests to determine whether they are strong enough for surgery
  • Consult with doctors and surgeons about the types and amounts of drugs to administer before and during surgery or another procedure
  • Explain to patients surgical methods and the effects of drugs
  • Administer drugs before procedures
  • Position patients on operating tables
  • Stand next to patients during surgery, monitoring their vital signs and adjusting medication as required
  • In emergency-surgery situations, provide life support and airway management
  • Decide when patients are stable enough to be moved from the operating room, and when they should be allowed to go home
  • Following a patient’s release, prescribe drugs and monitor their effect
  • Keep records of drug doses and patient responses throughout the process
  • Schedule operating rooms, and make sure they are sterile and organized
  • Educate patients and groups about disease-prevention and health-promotion methods
  • Conduct research, develop and test methods, and obtain continuing education

How to Become an Anesthesiologist

High school students interested in becoming medical doctors of any sort are advised to take multiple science and math classes. They include algebra, anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physiology.

A bachelor’s degree in some type of science must be obtained from a four-year college or university. It is a good idea to take part in a pre-med program during this time. Courses include biology, chemistry, English, math, physics, the humanities, and social sciences. On-the-job experience may be gained by volunteering at medical facilities during undergraduate school.

The next step is completing four years of medical school to obtain a degree as a doctor. This entails two years of classwork, studying the sciences; and two years of clinical training, to get practical experience.

Finally, a prospective anesthesiologist must finish a one-year internship, followed by a three-year residency program. To specialize in pain-relieving medicine, critical-care medicine, research, or education, a one-year fellowship is required.

Qualities and Skills

Anesthesiologists must pay attention to detail and be meticulous in calculating drug doses. They have to closely watch monitors in the operating room, to ensure that patients are stable and comfortable.

This job can involve long periods of standing, and patients need to be lifted and positioned on operating tables, so some physical strength and stamina are necessary. Anesthesiologists are sometimes required to work long and irregular hours. Some are on call to respond to emergencies.

They must deal with patients who are upset, anxious, depressed, or angry. This can result in stressful situations. Good people skills and effective communication are essential.

Anesthesiologist Certification

The American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Board of Anesthesiology offer certification programs, involving courses and exams. A certificate is required to practice in the field. Many practitioners begin the process of obtaining certification during residency training.

In addition, all states mandate that anesthesiologists be licensed. A nationally administered exam must be passed. For information about how to apply, visit the website of a state’s medical-licensing board or department of health.

Anesthesiologist Salary

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Anesthesiologist Job Description Summary

  • Sedate patients during medical surgery or examination
  • Work with surgeons and other specialists
  • 4 year bachelor’s degree
  • 4 year medical school program
  • 4 additional years of residency program
  • Must be licensed to practice
  • 18% employment growth by 2022