Anesthesiologists are highly qualified physicians who administer anesthesia to patients for surgery, medical procedures or for pain management.They also carefully monitor a patient's vital signs during during a procedure. Anesthesiologists require many years of schooling and training along with certifications and licenses to qualify for the job. Among the highest paid medical professionals, anesthesiologists earn an average salary of $234,950 per year, according to 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Although only three years of undergraduate studies are required to enter medical school, acceptance into an accredited medical school is highly competitive. Most aspiring anesthesiologists complete a bachelor’s degree program in a science discipline such as biology or chemistry, or pre-medicine studies. After successful completion of undergraduate studies, students must pass the Medical College Admission Test, submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation and interview with the medical school’s admissions committee.
After acceptance into an accredited medical school, an additional four years of studies are required. Studies include classroom training, laboratory training and practical experience working with patients. Students also work under the direct supervision of physicians, surgeons and other medical professionals in hospitals and other medical facilities to gain additional practical experience.
A residency program is required for certification and a state-administered license. Residency programs generally last about four years. Anesthesiologists who wish to practice in one of five subspecialties require an additional year of residency training. Subspecialties recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists include critical care, hospice and palliative, pain, pediatric and sleep medicine.
State and National Licensure
Each state’s governing board requires a state-administered license to practice professionally as an anesthesiologist. Licensing requirements vary by state, but generally require submitting an application, passing a national licensing exam and passing state-administered exams. All physicians and surgeons must pass the Medical Licensing Examination, which is required for medical doctors, or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination, which is required for osteopathic medical doctors.