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What Skills Are Needed to Become an Anesthesiologist?

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Anesthesiologists evaluate and care for surgical patients to ensure that anesthesia and other agents of pain management are properly administered before and after surgery or medical procedures. Anesthesiologists also work with patients who may have chronic or severe pain. This is a critical job that requires rigorous education, training, credentials and a refined set of skills. Anesthesiologists make higher salaries than orthodontists or psychiatrists, putting them among some of the most well paid healthcare practitioners.

Dedication

Aspiring anesthesiologists should be committed to this profession, as it typically takes 12 or more years of post high school education to become a board-certified anesthesiologist. This job, as other physician jobs, will require long and hectic work hours, up to 60 hours or more per week, including nights, weekends and holidays. Individuals should have physical strength and endurance as well.

Work Under Pressure

This medical profession deals with difficult surgical situations in which the patient’s life is potentially at stake, so anesthesiologists must remain calm under pressure. While aspiring anesthesiologists are trained to possess this essential skill, individuals should have a natural quality of calmness and a cool head. Anesthesiologists must make fast and confident decisions while working in the fast-paced environment of hospital surgery. Anesthesiologists must also be detail oriented and have good judgment.

Interpersonal Communication

Even anesthesiologists, who often practice alone, must be team players, as they will continuously work with various medical professionals. Doctor-patient relations are also a valuable part of this profession. Anesthesiologists need to meet and discuss the patient's medical history and concerns prior to the surgery. Anesthesiologists also need to be efficient communicators, as they will need to discuss current medication, patient anxiety and the risks and benefits of anesthetic choices. Anesthesiologists that work in critical care units for the treatment of chronic pain may develop long-term doctor patient relationships, and need to form a trusting bond with a number of patients.

Educational Requirements

Aspiring anesthesiologists need to earn a bachelor's degree from a reputable college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or higher in order to get into a medical school. Students then should take the Medical College Admission Test for an evaluation of their medical education. This test must be taken during their junior year of college, and it must be passed with a minimum grade of 24. Students then must attend a four-year medical school. During this time, students will learn general medicine and clinical training. Students next must complete a four-year residency program, providing further training in this profession. Students may also choose a sub-specialty, which will require an additional one-to-three-year fellowship program. Once the residency program is completed, students must earn their certification and license before they can legally practice as an anesthesiologist.