The job of an anesthesiologist is vitally crucial across the medical industry. There’s no one-size-fits-all area where these skills are stuck; they’re essential to anyone undergoing surgery or in need of anesthesia for other reasons.
Because of the intricacy and delicacy of your talents, you can earn a lot of money in this field. In fact, an anesthesiologist’s salary is one of the top-paying incomes in the world.
However, with the big bucks comes heavy responsibility. Before you pursue a career in anesthesiology, here are the crucial pieces of info you should know.
1. You’ll Need the Full Doctorate Education
Not all of your patients will realize that as an anesthesiologist, you’re a full-fledged physician. Your specialty is in the realm of pain and sensation management instead of cardiology or a similar area.
Applying general, regional, or local anesthesia requires more training than the average doctor receives. You must create a care plan for each patient, monitor their vital signs, ensure they recover safely, and watch for reactions. Additionally, your job involves working as a team with the staff and surgeons.
All of this takes considerable knowledge, patience, flexibility, and on-your-feet thinking. Attention to detail is a must, as well as the ability to work under pressure.
The hard skills are taught during your education as you earn your bachelor’s and medical degree. Interpersonal communication with patients and fellow medical personnel comes during your four-year residency.
2. You’ll Take Multiple Tests
Before you get into med school, you must pass the MCAT. This test evaluates analytical skills and content knowledge. With your successful MCAT test, you can decide whether you want to become a doctor of medicine (MD) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).
The next “test” you’ll take happens after your first two years of coursework. This is Step 1, your Boards, and it’s required for MDs by the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and for DOs by the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination before you can receive a medical license.
But you’re not done there. When your Boards are complete, you must engage in clinical training. This includes two years of direct care with patients while under another physician’s supervision.
After the clinical training, you’ll undergo Step 2, in which you take a written test to showcase your knowledge and then complete an assessment to demonstrate your clinical skills and English proficiency.
This leads you to your residency in anesthesia. Your test scores and education results will match you to a residency program that takes four years to finish. At the end of those four years, you’ll take Step 3 of the testing for anesthesiologists. From there, you’ll be eligible for your licensure and certification.
3. Training Goes Beyond Graduation
As a physician, you’ll need to meet your state’s requirements and have a national Board license. But since you’re an anesthesiologist, you’ll need to go beyond these criteria and focus on your specialty certifications.
Each certification has its own set of standards. Some will require you to hold a one-year internship, as well as a fellowship program, plus exams. Others only have eligibility requirements and exams.
When you’re on your own, your knowledge expands through continuing education courses. How many credits you need and how long you have to obtain them depends on your certification.
4. You Can Skip Ahead and Become a Nurse Anesthetist
If all of that schooling and test-taking isn’t for you, but you still love the field of anesthesia, you may be happier as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).
CRNAs work in tandem with anesthesiologists to administer anesthesia, provide management, and perform emergency procedures. However, there are certain things they can’t do because they aren’t doctors.
The education path for a CRNA is much shorter, as these individuals only need a master’s degree from an accredited program. You’ll still make good money, and you’ll be in high demand.
In some areas, you’ll be the only anesthetist on the payroll, so you’ll still need those vital skills like flexibility and fast thinking. What you can and can’t do depends largely on the laws of your state.
Currently, 30 states allow CRNAs to engage in private practice without the supervision of a doctor. You can read more about the difference between anesthesiologists and CRNAs here.
Entering the world of medicine as an anesthesiologist is quite possibly aiming for the cream of the crop. Every medical avenue will need your skills! Now that you know what you’re getting into and your alternatives, you can decide if this path is for you.