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Cardiothoracic Anesthesiologist: Job Description & Requirements

Working as a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist requires significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

Cardiothoracic anesthesiologists are doctors who are trained in anesthesiology for heart and chest surgeries and other invasive procedures. They are knowledgeable about pre- and postoperative care with particular regard for cardiac conditions, drugs used in surgery, as well as technology needed in surgery. This specialized field of medicine requires completion of medical school and further training, as well as a license to practice medicine.

Essential Information

Cardiothoracic anesthesiology is the anesthesiology specialty dedicated to the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care of newborn through adult patients who undergo heart and chest surgery and other related invasive procedures. Though cardiothoracic anesthesiologists' primary responsibility is to anesthetize patients for painless surgical procedures, they also carry out various responsibilities in and out of the operation theater. All anesthesiologists are licensed medical doctors who have earned an undergraduate degree before completing medical school with a doctorate. They additionally complete residencies and fellowships in the field.

Required Education Undergraduate degree; doctoral degree in medicine; completion of a residency program in anesthesiology and a cardiothoracic anesthesiology fellowship
Other Requirements A license to practice medicine is mandatory in all states; anesthesiologists may also be certified by the American Society of Anesthesiologists or the American Board of Anesthesiology
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 21% for all anesthesiologists
Mean Salary (2015)* $258,100 for all anesthesiologists

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Cardiothoracic Anesthesiologist Job Duties

A cardiothoracic anesthesiologist provides anesthesia to surgical cases involving the heart, lungs, and other operations of the human chest, including bypass surgery and other procedures ranging from minimally invasive surgery, robotic surgery, and complex multi-stage aortic surgery. The cardiothoracic anesthesiologist is often responsible for supervision of the bypass heart-lung machine. He or she will also monitor a patient's physical condition through use of invasive monitors, in addition to keeping an eye on the patient's bodily reactions to drugs needed during a surgical procedure.. These specialized anesthesiologists also work with non-cardiac procedures like esophageal resection and all types of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery.

More recently, the responsibility of the cardiothoracic anesthesiologist has evolved into that of a physician accountable for all aspects of the perioperative period and who can assess and reduce risk in patients with complex cardiovascular disease. A cardiothoracic anesthesiologist may also be certified by the National Board of Echocardiography to perform ultrasound assessment of cardiac health, and they may also provide electrophysiology consult service for the reprogramming of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD).

Cardiothoracic Anesthesiologist Job Requirements

Prospective cardiothoracic anesthesiologists must earn a medical degree from a medical school that is listed in the World Health Organization Directory of Medical Schools or the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory. In addition, they are required to finish a four-year residency program in anesthesiology, and a one-year cardiothoracic anesthesiology fellowship, which the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists suggests be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Cardiothoracic anesthesiologists receive certification from the American Society of Anesthesiologists or the American Board of Anesthesiology, and must be granted the proper medical license for the geographic area in which they practice.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment of all anesthesiologists, including those who specialize in cardiothoracic care, will grow by about 21% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that the average salary earned among anesthesiologists was $258,100 in May 2015.

Cardiothoracic anesthesiologists provide anesthesia during heart and chest surgeries. They must complete medical school, followed by a four-year residency in anesthesiology. To specialize in this type of anesthesiology, they need to complete a further fellowship.


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