An anesthesiologist is one of the most crucial parts of an ensemble for a surgery. Since the invention of anesthesia itself, modern medicine and surgery was revolutionized and this sole invention opened up the possibilities of corrective surgery and hundreds of other procedures that could be done without the need for the patient to grind their teeth. In short, anesthesia solved one of the biggest problems that practitioners faced back then while performing surgeries, which makes anesthesiologists one of the most sought-after medical practitioners in modern days, since every surgery or procedure that involves correction or even diagnosis (for some afflictions) requires for the patient to be anaesthetized. Among one of the world’s highest-paying and most satisfactory jobs, hopefuls always ask: how to become an anesthesiologist?

Becoming an anesthesiologist, right off the bat, is as difficult as becoming a doctor, since both of the professions share the same four years of medical college which is reputed to be as difficult as they come. It is only during their residency and professional practice in a hospital where they are trained for the job of being an anesthesiologist. However, this alone does not ensure the person a job, a title as an anesthesiologist and the respect they command. One needs to put in several years of experience, a house job and a credible history of top-notch performance to go for the average salary they earn and all the perquisites they enjoy. 

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However, its not all air-conditioned offices and lofty pays. In the operation theatre, where each and every movement is calculated and every second counts, the anesthesiologist must stay focused and ready at all times, since they are responsible for the most crucial part of the operation and must at all times monitor the condition, the vitals of the patient. There is no room for error; one small mistake in judgement could be fatal and costs many practitioners their licenses every year in the States. Needless to say, being an anesthesiologist comes with its own sets of pros and cons. So, how to become an anesthesiologist?

The pros of becoming an anesthesiologist certainly outweigh the enormous challenges that accompany such a stressful job (only for those dedicated to the medical profession and the service of humankind), however, for the general public, the pressure of an operating room and the whole tense environment seems pretty far-fetched from what portrayals we’ve seen on medical shows on TV, which is exactly what keeps people away from trying to be an anesthesiologist. However, the devil is in the details and it’s the journey that is difficult; many other jobs and professions carry the same amount of tension and responsibility as an anesthesiologist, even though they might seem relaxed at first.

So, if you are passionate about serving humanity and going into the prestigious profession of medicine, here’s how to become an anesthesiologist.

How to Become an Anesthesiologist?

There is a certain process that one has to go through to become an anesthesiologist, which includes the four years of medical college, a house residency and several years of practicing with a team of anesthesiologists and medical practitioners to further hone the skill and to practically apply and perfect the knowledge that an aspirant gains in medical school. 

Following are the steps to becoming an anesthesiologist.

  • Getting a Bachelor’s Degree (Preferably in Biology)

While medical school requirements do not explicitly state a Bachelor’s degree in Biology or Physiology is required, it would be considered an added incentive to have done so prior to vying for medical school. So, the first step in how to become an anesthesiologist is to get a four-year (or five-year in certain programs or varsities) degree from a reputed university, preferably in Biology or any other related field, that can help you prepare for the medical school ahead of you and the MCAT examination, which is only determinant for your entry into a good medical school. Having a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Physiology or any other medicine-related field will increase your chances of acing the MCAT and not having to dabble with the basics while in medical school. 

  • Acing the MCAT

Once you’re done with your Bachelor’s (with a 3.5+ CGPA), you will then need to take an MCAT examination, which determines your eligibility for an admission in a medical college. While high scores and preferred while being sifted against college applications, different medical colleges in different states have different eligibility criteria and therefore, you should aim for a score that closely matches that of your dream destination to study medicine. Lower MCAT scores are also accepted by some medical colleges, provided that the prior educational record is good as well. However, like many other things, an MCAT exam score does not affect your holistic score, rather colleges prefer candidates with a consistent performance level over the years. 

  • Getting into a Medical School / College

This is one of the pivotal parts of the journey to become an anesthesiologist, so you will have to pay extra attention and be really careful with your decisions, because once made, they will continue to affect and interplay into your professional life and any endeavor that might follow it. Try to look for a college that specializes in courses related to anesthesiology and which is reputed to have produced some big names in medicine overall. America is full of such colleges; you just have to find one that suits you. There will be four years of getting you adept at the human body, its various ailments and how to diagnose and treat them. You will also be taught about other bodily functions and related concepts, preparing you for your residency and medical practice ahead of you.

  • Acing the USMLE

The USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) is the final frontier between you and your dream job of being an anesthesiologist. As the name states, it is a mandatory test, for the federal agencies to gauge your performance as a medical practitioner and to determine whether or not to allow you to get a license and start practicing. All states require it for the completion of the whole MD experience. This test can be given (two parts of it) while in medical school but the final must be given after medical school has been completed. 

  • Get into a Residency Program

Getting into a residency is as crucial as getting into a medical school for this profession; that’s because just like internships in other fields of professions, a residency is designed for medical students to transition from the academic world to the practical world. Residency will include covering shifts and completing clinic hours at a teaching/ reading hospital in your state to gain sufficient experience to progress onto the next stage in becoming an anesthesiologist.

  • Getting State-Licensed and Board-Certified

The final steps into becoming an anesthesiologist includes getting a state approval to practice medicine (which is a separate process but is required) and (voluntarily) getting certified from a board of practitioners that specialize in different fields of medicine. In this case, to become an anesthesiologist, you will need to have certification from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) to improve your resume, your certifications and increase your chances of landing a high-paying job with a prestigious institute.