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Anesthesiologist Training Requirements and Programs

Majors Overview March 21, 2013

Anesthesiologists are in charge of administering medications that allow patients to sleep during medical treatment or critical surgical operations. These professionals are responsible for maintaining a patient’s vitals while he or she is under anesthetics; in performing this function, anesthesiologists monitor the blood pressure, breathing and heart rate of patients. Anesthesiologists are technically physicians with a chosen specialty, so both of them have similar educational path, including licensure, residency, and medical school.

Training Programs and Requirements

The first step to a career as an anesthesiologist is the completion of an undergraduate degree, preferably in a life science such as mathematics or science. Thereafter, an aspiring candidate can help themselves by obtaining a medical degree and completing a residency in the field. In the residency program, students study anesthesia theory and complete internships in areas such as emergency medicine, cardiology, and critical care.

Anesthesiologists have to be able to withstand long working hours along with being self-motivated. A majority of anesthesiologists supervise anesthesiology assistants (A.A.) and certified nurse anesthesiologists (CNAs), so management skills are essential. Additionally, anesthesiologists need to possess exceptional communication skills because they work closely with other surgeons and physicians for treatment options.

Formal Education

Extensive formal training is required by anesthesiologists, they have to devote four years to a residency program, medical school, and baccalaureate degree program. There are several colleges or universities that offer graduate degree program in anesthesiology.

Master of Science in Anesthesiology

Prospective anesthesiologists will learn about administering various anesthetics in non-surgical and surgical circumstances through the two-year graduate degree program in anesthesiology. Students will take courses such as electrocardiography, pulmonary mechanics, pharmacology and physiology. The program is interspersed with clinical practicum units at venues such as medical centers and hospitals in the vicinity.

Doctor of Medicine

During the first two years of medical school, students with spend a majority of their time in classrooms and laboratories completing numerous science-based courses, such as microbiology, pharmacology, gross anatomy, and cell and tissue biology. Students will work at clinics or hospitals practicing patient care during the third and fourth years. Students have to interview for residency positions at medical facilities and select a specialty area such as anesthesiology towards the end of the fourth year.

Work Experience

Anesthesiologists need years of experience and training prior to obtaining licensure. Students can practice clinical situations on simulator-based equipment provided in some anesthesiology residency programs. Students also use residency programs to learn about equipment troubleshooting, post-anesthesia care, organ transplants, and basic operating room procedures.

The majority of employers require aspiring anesthesiologists to obtain two to four years of work experience once they have completed their residency program. Additionally, several employers expect candidates to have Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification that may be completed through coursework in a graduate degree program in anesthesia. Some programs are offered online by the American Medical Resource Institute.

Certifications and Licenses

Certification in anesthesiology sub-specialties and anesthesiology are issued by the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA). Candidates with medical degrees are required to pass an oral and written exam in order to qualify for certification. Certification has to be revalidated every ten years.

The American Osteopathic Board of Anesthesiology (AOA) has eighteen different medical specialty certifications, including anesthesiology. Applicants need to be observed administering anesthesia in an operating room along with passing the oral and written examination. Applicants need to maintain a minimum of one hundred twenty hours of continuing medical education credits within a three-year period, in addition to passing the exam. Candidates have to be re-certified every ten years as required by the American Osteopathic Board of Anesthesiology.

Seminars and Workshops

Other professional organizations along with the American Board of Anesthesiology offer workshops and conferences year-round for anesthesiologists. Several conferences last three to five days and allow individuals to learn how to enhance pharmacology and postoperative patient care, as well as effectiveness of certain types of catheters. Candidates will spend several days learning about different kinds of anesthesia, such as regional, bariatric, obstetrical, and pediatric in the anesthesiology workshops.

Other Professional Development

After completing the residency program, an anesthesiologist can seek employment in an outpatient medical agency or hospital. Those who want to concentrate on a specialty area of anesthesia can gain additional experience by taking part in a fellowship program that usually span for one to three years. Some specialty areas include pain management, cardiac or pediatric anesthesia, or obstetrical.

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