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What Should I Major in to Become an Anesthesiologist?

An anesthesiologist degree plan can include one of several different undergraduate majors and continues with a medical degree. After taking anesthesiologist classes as part of medical school, students complete a residency program to prepare for professional certification. View article »

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  • 0:04 Aspiring…
  • 0:55 Undergraduate Curriculum
  • 1:21 Medical School
  • 1:40 Residency
  • 2:10 Anesthesiologist Job…
  • 2:31 Salary and Career Information

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Video Transcript

Anesthesiologist Degree Plan FAQs

An anesthesiologist degree plan, like that of any other physician or surgeon, typically consists of a bachelor's degree followed by a medical degree. After earning their doctorate, anesthesiologists must undergo residency training and earn licensure to practice. Here we examine each part of the process in more detail.

Are There Any Anesthesiologist Majors?

Anesthesiologists must begin their postsecondary educational journey with a bachelor's degree program. While there are no specific anesthesiologist majors and no specific major requirements for becoming an anesthesiologist, aspiring anesthesiologists may choose to enter pre-med programs at their institution. Medical-related major options include:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Health science
  • Physical science

Although rare, there are some online pre-med degree programs available in areas like chemical engineering or zoology.

Will I Take Anesthesiologist Classes in Medical School?

Anesthesiologists typically enter a 4-year medical degree program and earn an MD. Students who want to pursue an ND degree through a holistic medicine college can do so at schools located in states like Colorado and Minnesota.

During the first year of medical school, students take traditional courses and lab work in subjects like anatomy, medical ethics, biochemistry, and pharmacology. Students interested in becoming an anesthesiologist may then move on to take anesthesiologist electives and rotations during their clinical curriculum.

What Does a Residency Entail?

It is beneficial for students to begin volunteering in a healthcare setting as early as their undergraduate education to begin gaining hands-on experience. However, to become a licensed and certified anesthesiologist, students must complete an anesthesiology residency program for training and experience.

These programs typically take three years to complete and begin with rotations to help students explore their personal interests and find their specialization within the field. Some rotation areas may include:

  • General medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Pathology

How Do I Earn Anesthesiologist Certification?

All anesthesiologists must first obtain a state medical license to practice. This typically requires earning a medical degree, completing a residency program, and passing a national licensure exam.

Anesthesiologists can then pursue board certification in anesthesiology (BCA) through the American Board of Physician Specialities (ABPS). To earn their BCA, students must complete their residency and submit letters of recommendation, a CV, and 25 anesthesia case reports.

The American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) also offers a number of exams for certifications in areas like sleep medicine, critical care medicine, and pediatric anesthesiology. To ensure best practices in the field, the ABA offers the Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA) program that is designed for continuing education.

Anesthesiologist Job Description

Anesthesiologists are responsible for providing various levels of pain relief. They primarily work with surgical patients but may also work with other patients in pain, such as those with chronic pain or women in labor. They are typically present during medical procedures and surgeries to administer different kinds of anesthetics. Other job responsibilities may include:

  • Monitoring patients' vitals during surgery
  • Calculating and adjusting the amount of anesthetics needed
  • Providing input for surgical procedures and treatments

Anesthesiologists usually work full-time and may need to work irregular hours. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual salary for anesthesiologists was $267,020. The BLS also reported an expected job outlook of 15% for these professionals from 2016 to 2026.

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