What is an Anesthesiologist
The field of anesthesiology is a medical specialty that focuses on the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient as well as the immediate postoperative period. Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who must complete 4 years of undergraduate school, four years in an accredited medical school, one year as a general surgery intern, three years at a minimum in an anesthesia residency program and one or two years in a critical care medicine fellowship. This adds up to 11-13 years after high school before you can even apply for a job as an anesthesiologist!
What do Anesthesiologists do?
Anesthesiologists utilize their extensive education to provide what is termed “total patient care”. In addition to managing the airway and ensuring proper breathing during surgery, anesthesia providers also manage pain, fluid and electrolyte balance, body temperature, prevention of cardiac arrest, patient transport to the operating room and post-operative management.
Anesthesiologists are not limited to what goes on in the operating room though. They are also responsible for what happens before surgery, during the preoperative visit with a surgeon who may or may not be an anesthesiologist themselves!
For further information about what an anesthesiologist is and what they do, please check out this fine article.
Post residency training - Fellowships
Anesthesiology is a very competitive field for medical students, and many of the most talented individuals go on to do fellowships. There are different types of fellowship programs available for people interested in specializing further in anesthesiology.
Here are a few of the most popular Anesthesiology Fellowships:
Anesthesia critical care: requires 2-3 years following residency after completing at least 3 years of anesthesiology residency. This track typically leads to board certification for both anesthesia and critical care medicine, which allows you to work in academic institutions where research applications will be strongly considered. The two separate specialties must be completed back-to-back and an anesthesiology residency is typically expected for this track.
Obstetric anesthesiology: requires board certification in anesthesia followed by an additional 2 years of training after an anesthesiology residency, is necessary for this fellowship. This program is designed to train people to become experts in pain management and anesthesia during labor or cesarean delivery. A person going into this field must already have a strong knowledge of anesthetic drugs and their pharmacokinetics, as well as an interest in the endocrine system and physiology.
Pediatric anesthesiology: this option consists of an anesthesiology residency, followed by a 3-4 year pediatric anesthesia fellowship accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). A family medicine or pediatrics residency is required prior to applying. Once you’ve completed all that, you can then take advantage of advanced training opportunities while working towards board eligibility and certification in pediatric anesthesiology. This type of job typically includes caring for children with congenital heart disease, infants with neurologic problems within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and children undergoing surgical procedures.
Neuromuscular anesthesiology: this fellowship program is designed for people who want to become an anesthesiologist who specializes in neuromuscular-blocking agents (NMBA). You must complete an anesthesiology residency and the American Board of Anesthesiologists’ exam for certification before you can apply to a neuromuscular fellowship. A neuromuscular anesthesiology fellowship requires completion of an intensive clinical requirement, research project, or prior experience with NMBA titration.
Pain medicine: this track typically takes three years after an anesthesiology residency, during which time fellows gain surgical expertise in pain management techniques under an anesthesiologist who has an interest in the field. The anesthesiologist in pain management is often an expert in regional anesthesia and procedural techniques, with an in-depth understanding of neuromodulators like local anesthetics.
Cardiothoracic anesthesiology: this fellowship requires completion of an anesthesiology residency, followed by two years of training that focus on perioperative care for patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery or thoracic pain management. You must be board certified to apply for a cardiothoracics anesthesiology fellowship associated with a university hospital or large medical center.
Regional anesthesia: this option provides continuing education opportunities and clinical experience in anesthesiology and pain management. The program lasts one year and requires an anesthesiology residency and certification in anesthesiology to apply.
For more information about Anesthesiology fellowships please visit: https://www.asahq.org/education-and-career/asa-resident-component/residentfellows-in-training/fellowship-opportunities