Anesthesiologists are trained physicians who specialize in administering sedatives and pain medication to patients. They create treatment plans with other doctors and relieve or prevent pain in patients before, after and during surgery. A career as an anesthesiologist is rewarding but is not meant for everyone. Someone interested in this field must consider the cost of medical school, liability insurance and work environment.
Anesthesiologists work around-the-clock in hospitals. They are on-call to administer anesthesia or pain medication to patients in intensive care, emergency surgeries, and labor and delivery. Shift work requires evening and weekend availability and gives anesthesiologists a flexible work schedule, but this may pose difficulties for physicians with families.
Anesthesiologists work side by side with other doctors and build peer relationships with physicians in other specialties; however, working in a hospital is stressful, especially in emergency situations.
One of the biggest benefits to becoming an anesthesiologist is the attractive pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, anesthesiologists earn an average hourly wage of $101.80, resulting in an average annual salary of $211,750.
Regardless of specialty, every physician is required to have professional liability insurance. Liability insurance is costly. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the average premium for liability insurance in 2007 was $23,481.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average educational debt of medical school graduates in 2008 was $130,000. Education for those in the medical profession is costly and time-consuming. A bachelor's degree is required for entrance into medical school, which takes approximately four years to complete. Three years of study in a residency program is required for anesthesiology.
The American Board of Anesthesiology certifies anesthesiologists, giving them a competitive edge and recognition from peers. Certification is not required to practice medicine; however, passing the board exam demonstrates professional competency and application of anesthesiology. Anesthesiology certification exam fees for 2010 are $525 for Part 1 and $1950 for Part 2 of the exam.