Anesthesiologists provide for the general welfare and pain management in patients before, during and after surgery; some anesthesiologists concentrate their practice in the area of general pain management.

A Day in the Life - Anesthesiologist

About Anesthesiology

Anesthesiologists are highly trained physicians that are responsible for the welfare and safety of patients; not only are these physicians responsible for pain relief during a surgical operation, but they must care for the critical life function of the patient during the operation. Generally, these physicians are responsible for the well-being of patients throughout all stages of surgery: preoperative, operative, and postoperative; many anesthesiologists also practice pain management.

When appropriate, anesthesiologists will induce a state of controlled consciousness called general anesthesia, where the patient is rendered unconscious in order to avoid feeling the pains of the operation. In regional anesthesia, a specialized area of the body will be numbed for surgery. In localized anesthesia, a smaller area of the body will be anesthetized (numbed), such as the nose or mouth. Anesthesiologists are also trained to administer sedatives to patients to relieve pain, or in certain circumstances, for the treatment of anxiety. While under anesthesia, the physician will monitor vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and oxygen levels, among others.

Although many may envision anesthesiologists as only being present in the operating room, their responsibilities extend well beyond. They are responsible for creating an anesthetic plan before the surgery, while also taking into account the patient’s current health situation and health history to ensure the highest degree of safety and necessary pain relief. Anesthesiologists create plans that will not interfere with the type of surgery being performed, as well as taking into account any prescription medications the patient may be taking. Anesthesiologists are also responsible for the welfare of the patient after the operation, ensuring a safe return to consciousness. Aside from surgical duties, these physicians must assist in the stabilization of critically injured/ill patients, the relief of chronic pain in patients (the medical specialty known as pain management), in respiratory and cardiac resuscitation, respiratory therapy, and in cases of blood transfusions, among others.

Anesthesiology Education & Training

Anesthesiologists must earn a four year medical degree following successful completion a four year undergraduate degree focused in the areas of science or mathematics. After graduation from medical school with a DO or MD medical degree, the anesthesiologist-in-training must then complete a one year internship, followed by three to four years of residency training. During the residency, the physician gains a wide variety of clinical anesthetic experience, as well as a wealth of scientific knowledge to accompany them in their duties as an anesthesiologist.

After successful residency completion, residents are eligible to take the primary certification exam from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) - approximately 90% of anesthesiologists earn this board certification. Following completion of the residency, many anesthesiologists will pursue a one year fellowship in areas such as pain management, pediatric anesthesiology or obstetric anesthesiology, among others, which allow the physician to receive highly specialized training in a particular area.

This track often leads to subspecialty certification from the ABA in areas such as hospice & palliative care, critical care medicine, pain management, sleep medicine or pediatric anesthesiology. Every ten years, anesthesiologists who are board certified by the ABA must complete Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA) requirements to demonstrate their expertise and continuing excellence in the field.