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How to Become an Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists are responsible for providing pain relief to patients and monitoring patients' vital signs during surgery.[1]Anesthesiology is a prestigious and lucrative field of medicine, but requires a great deal of education and expertise. Read this article to learn how to pursue anesthesiology as a career.


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    Graduate from high school or pass the General Education Development (GED) exam. You will need to do one of these two things in order to be accepted to a four-year institution. Pay special attention to science classes like biology, physiology, chemistry, and physics. How you perform in these types of courses early on will help you determine whether pursuing medicine is the right option for you.
    • If you want to pursue medicine but are having trouble keeping up with science courses in high school, consider hiring a private tutor to help you excel. If you continue to have trouble, then reconsider your career path, as science courses will only continue to get more challenging through college and medical school
    • Take the SATs, the required standardized admission test for colleges, your junior year and apply to multiple schools in order to keep your options open. Consider taking an SAT prep course to improve your score.
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    Get a bachelor's degree from a four-year institution. You will need to have a four-year degree in order to apply to medical school. While there is no specific major requirement, it is recommended that undergraduates major in the natural sciences.[2] Popular majors for aspiring anesthesiologists include biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and nutritional science.[3]
    • Undergraduate pre-medical programs include elective courses like organic chemistry that are specifically designed to prepare students for medical school.[4]
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    Take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). This standardized test is required for admission to medical school.[5] Your scores on this exam, plus your transcript and other personal information, will be the basis of your acceptance.
    • The MCAT changes periodically to keep up with current changes in medicine.[6]
    • Prepare for the test by taking practice exams and enrolling in an MCAT preparatory course.[7]
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    Finish medical school. Medical school takes four years to complete, and will earn you either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Both are fully credentialed physicians qualified to become an anesthesiologist.[8] During the first two years of medical school, you will learn the fundamentals of medicine in a classroom and lab setting, focusing on courses like physiology, pathology, microbiology, and neuroscience.[9] During the second two years you will continue to learn in a classroom setting while also gaining hands-on training through rotations in hospitals and clinics.[10]
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    Complete a four-year anesthesiology residency.[11] Once you have completed medical school, you will need to complete a four-year residency in anesthesiology before you will be eligible to take the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) examination.[12] Residents receive clinical training working in hospitals, and provide medical care to patients under supervision.[13]
    • The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) matches medical school graduates with residency programs.[14]
    • Many physicians complete an additional one-year fellowship after their four-year residency, focusing on a specialized field like cardiac or pediatric anesthesiology.[15]
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    Get licensed to practice medicine. You will need to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and/or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) to obtain licensure to practice medicine in the US.[16]
    • Get board certified (optional). The American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) and the American Osteopathic Board of Anesthesiology (AOBA) both offer a board certification exam.[17] The test required to become a board certified anesthesiologist in the US, and is comprised of both written and oral sections.[18]
    • Not all anesthesiologists are board-certified, but most (90%) are. Board certification demonstrates a physicians' expertise and commitment to the practice.[19]
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    Find work as an anesthesiologist. Anesthesiologists work in hospitals, outpatient surgical centers, private and group practices, urgent care centers, academic medical centers, and the military.[20] Anesthesiologists, like other physicians, work long and irregular hours, some working over 60 hours a week.[21]
    • With ever-growing populations, there will continue to be an increased demand for anesthesiologists and other medical professionals.[22]


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