How to Become an Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists are physicians who focus on surgical patients and pain relief. They administer anesthetics to keep the patient asleep and prevent any pain or feeling during surgery. They closely monitor the patient's vital signs during surgery and adjust the anesthetics accordingly. They also monitor patients during the first stages of recovery after an operation, and administer appropriate medication during recovery. The first contact an anesthesiologist will have with a patient is during a pre-operative interview, when the anesthesiologist reviews the patient's medical history and medications and discusses the upcoming surgery [source: BLS]. If this sounds like the career for you, keep reading to learn how to become an anesthesiologist.

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree in life sciences or mathematics.
  2. Enroll in a master's program in anesthesiology. In this two-year program you will learn all about anesthesiology and how to administer anesthetics in surgical and non-surgical situations. Courses will include physiology, pharmacology and pulmonary mechanics. All the while you will have clinical practice in different hospitals.
  3. Enroll in a medical school. For the first two years of the program you will be taking courses at the medical school, and during the third and fourth years you will be working at hospitals and clinics practicing patient care. While in your last year at medical school, apply for a residency.
  4. Complete a two-year residency program. During your residency you will be working in a hospital operating room assisting other doctors. You can apply for certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) while doing your residency.
  5. Obtain all the necessary certifications and licenses. Anesthesiologists must be certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA). This entails taking a written and oral exam. You will have to take additional tests and be certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Anesthesiology (AOBA). Both boards require recertification every seven to 10 years [source: UM, ASA, CSA]. Various states have their own licensing requirements [source: BLS]. Be sure to find out what's required where you live and practice.