What is an Anesthesiologist?

An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in administering anesthesia to patients who require medical procedures or surgery. They are responsible for ensuring that the patient is safe and comfortable throughout the procedure, monitoring vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, and adjusting the level of anesthesia as needed. Anesthesiologists must also have a thorough understanding of a patient's medical history, as well as any medications or health conditions that may affect their response to anesthesia. They work closely with other members of the surgical team, including surgeons, nurses, and other medical professionals, to provide the best possible care for patients.

In addition to administering anesthesia, anesthesiologists also play a critical role in managing pain before, during, and after surgery. They may use a variety of techniques and medications, including local anesthesia, epidurals, nerve blocks, and pain medications, to help patients manage pain and ensure a smooth recovery. Anesthesiologists must have a deep understanding of the physiology of pain, as well as the pharmacology of pain medications, in order to provide the most effective pain management strategies for their patients.

What does an Anesthesiologist do?

An anesthesiologist in the operating room, keeping a patient comfortable, safe, and pain-free during surgery.

Anesthesiologists are vitally important in the field of medicine as they play a crucial role in patient care and safety during surgical procedures. Their specialized knowledge and skills in airway management, pain control, and critical care make them indispensable members of the surgical team, contributing to successful outcomes and improved patient well-being.

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of an anesthesiologist include:

  • Preoperative Assessment: Anesthesiologists are responsible for conducting a thorough preoperative assessment of patients. This includes reviewing the patient's medical history, conducting a physical examination, and ordering appropriate laboratory and imaging tests to evaluate the patient's overall health and determine the appropriate anesthesia plan.
  • Anesthesia Administration: Anesthesiologists are responsible for administering anesthesia to patients, including general anesthesia, regional anesthesia, and local anesthesia. They monitor the patient's vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and oxygen saturation levels, throughout the procedure and adjust the anesthesia as necessary to ensure the patient's safety and comfort.
  • Pain Management: Anesthesiologists are responsible for managing the patient's pain before, during, and after the procedure. They may use a variety of techniques and medications to manage pain, including nerve blocks, epidurals, and pain medications.
  • Airway Management: Anesthesiologists are responsible for managing the patient's airway during the procedure, ensuring that the patient is able to breathe properly and that the airway remains open and unobstructed.
  • Patient Monitoring: Anesthesiologists are responsible for monitoring the patient's vital signs throughout the procedure and ensuring that the patient is stable and safe. They must be prepared to respond quickly to any changes in the patient's condition, such as changes in heart rate or blood pressure, to ensure the patient's safety.
  • Team Collaboration: Anesthesiologists work closely with other members of the surgical team, including surgeons, nurses, and other medical professionals, to ensure that the patient receives the best possible care. They collaborate with the team to develop an appropriate anesthesia plan and to ensure that the patient's needs are met throughout the procedure.
  • Postoperative Care: Anesthesiologists are responsible for ensuring that the patient is safely transferred to the recovery room and that they receive appropriate postoperative care, including pain management and monitoring for any complications.

Types of Anesthesiologists
There are several types of anesthesiologists, including:

  • General Anesthesiologists: They are responsible for providing anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery or other medical procedures. They administer drugs to induce and maintain unconsciousness, monitor vital signs, and adjust the dosage of anesthesia as necessary.
  • Pediatric Anesthesiologists: They specialize in providing anesthesia to infants and children. They are trained to handle the unique physiology and anatomy of pediatric patients, as well as the psychological aspects of treating young patients.
  • Obstetric Anesthesiologists: They are trained to provide anesthesia to pregnant women during labor and delivery. They may also provide pain relief during cesarean section procedures.
  • Cardiothoracic Anesthesiologists: They specialize in providing anesthesia to patients undergoing cardiac or thoracic surgeries, such as open-heart surgery or lung surgery.
  • Pain Management Anesthesiologists: They specialize in managing chronic pain conditions using a variety of techniques, including medications, nerve blocks, and other interventional procedures.
  • Critical Care Anesthesiologists: They provide anesthesia and critical care services to patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and other critical care settings.
  • Neuroanesthesiologists: They specialize in providing anesthesia for patients undergoing neurosurgical procedures, such as brain surgery or spinal cord surgery.

Are you suited to be an anesthesiologist?

Anesthesiologists have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if anesthesiologist is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of an Anesthesiologist like?

Anesthesiologists typically work in hospitals, clinics, and surgical centers, where they administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical or other medical procedures. They work closely with surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that patients receive the appropriate level of anesthesia and are comfortable during the procedure.

Anesthesiologists may also work in critical care units, where they provide anesthesia and critical care services to patients with life-threatening conditions. In these settings, they may be responsible for managing patients' pain, monitoring vital signs, and adjusting medications as necessary to ensure the patient's stability.

Anesthesiologists work long hours and may be required to be on call during nights, weekends, and holidays. They may also work in high-stress environments, where quick thinking and effective communication are essential. The job requires a high level of technical skill, as anesthesiologists must be able to administer anesthesia safely and effectively to patients with a wide range of medical conditions. However, the job can be highly rewarding, as anesthesiologists play a critical role in ensuring the safety and comfort of patients during medical procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Anesthesiologist vs Nurse Anesthetist

An anesthesiologist and a nurse anesthetist are both healthcare professionals involved in administering anesthesia to patients during surgical procedures. However, there are differences in their educational background, scope of practice, and level of autonomy.

An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in anesthesia and perioperative medicine. Anesthesiologists complete four years of medical school after obtaining an undergraduate degree, followed by a residency program specifically focused on anesthesiology, which typically lasts three to four years. They have a comprehensive understanding of medical and physiological aspects related to anesthesia and are trained in various anesthesia techniques. They often work in collaboration with surgeons and other medical professionals, providing anesthesia care and monitoring patients before, during, and after surgery. Anesthesiologists can also diagnose and treat medical conditions that may impact anesthesia or patient safety.

Nurse Anesthetist
On the other hand, a nurse anesthetist, also known as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who specializes in anesthesia. To become a nurse anesthetist, one must first become a registered nurse (RN) by completing a nursing program and obtaining a nursing license. After gaining experience in critical care nursing, nurses can pursue a Master's or Doctoral Degree in Nurse Anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists receive extensive training in anesthesia techniques, pharmacology, and patient care specific to anesthesia. They work under the supervision of anesthesiologists or independently, depending on the state regulations and the policies of the healthcare facility.

While both anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists are qualified to administer anesthesia, anesthesiologists typically have a broader scope of medical knowledge and training. They can handle complex medical situations and provide specialized care for patients with more complicated medical conditions. Anesthesiologists are also involved in the management of pain, critical care, and resuscitation efforts in the operating room and other clinical settings.

In terms of autonomy, anesthesiologists often have a higher level of independence and decision-making authority, while nurse anesthetists may practice with varying levels of autonomy depending on state laws and facility policies.

It's worth noting that the collaboration between anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists is common and can lead to effective and comprehensive anesthesia care. The choice between an anesthesiologist and a nurse anesthetist may depend on factors such as the complexity of the procedure, the patient's medical condition, and the preferences and resources of the healthcare facility.

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Doctor Specializations and Degrees

The following is a comprehensive list of the various specializations that a doctor can pursue and a brief summary of each specialization:

  • Allergist: An allergist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, and related conditions. Allergists have specialized training in the recognition and management of allergic reactions.
  • Anesthesiologist: An anesthesiologist keeps a patient comfortable, safe and pain-free during surgery by administering local or general anesthetic.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist specializes in finding, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart, the arteries, and the veins.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in surgical procedures inside the thorax (the chest), which may involve the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. As well as performing surgery, they also diagnose and treat diseases of these organs.
  • Chiropractic Neurologist: A chiropractic neurologist is a specialized type of chiropractor who has undergone additional training in the field of neurology. They diagnose and treat conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system.
  • Chiropractor: A chiropractor, or doctor of chiropractic medicine, specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous system, especially in the spine. Treatment is usually physical manipulation of the joints and the spine to bring them back into alignment. A chiropractor does not perform surgery or prescribe medication.
  • Colorectal Surgeon: A colorectal surgeon specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, as well as the entire gastric tract. These surgeons work closely with urologists, who handle the urogenital tract in males and the urinary tract of women, gynecologists, who deal with specific female issues, and gastroenterologists, who deal with diseases of the gut.
  • Doctor: An general overview of what a doctor does and how to become one.
  • Dentist: Dentists identify potential oral health issues such as gum disease, as well as examine patients, order medical tests and determine the correct diagnosis and treatment. They also perform oral surgery and remove teeth or address other dental health problems.
  • Dermatologist: A dermatologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions affecting skin, hair, sweat and oil glands, nails, and mucus membranes (inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids) which can include cancer.
  • Emergency Medicine Physician: An emergency medicine physician works in emergency departments, hospitals, and urgent care clinics, and is often the first medical professional that patients see when they are in need of urgent medical care.
  • Endocrinologist: An endocrinologist specializes in diagnosing conditions and diseases related to the glands and hormones. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for conditions and diseases directly related to glands and hormones they will typically send a patient to an endocrinologist.
  • Family Practitioner: A family practitioner specializes in caring for the entire family. Patients can be children, adults, and the elderly, and are treated for a wide array of medical issues.
  • Forensic Pathologist: A forensic pathologist investigates the cause of sudden and unexpected deaths, and is able to determine how a person died by performing an autopsy and studying tissue and laboratory results. These doctors are often called upon to provide evidence in court regarding the cause and time of such deaths.
  • Gastroenterologist: A gastroenterologist has specific training in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This may include diseases and disorders that affect the the biliary system (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts), as well as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon).
  • Geriatrician: A geriatrician specializes in the care of elderly patients, and often works with patients who have multiple chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related cognitive and functional impairments.
  • Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in women's reproductive systems. Gynecologists are also sometimes certified as obstetricians, and will monitor the health of the mother and the fetus during a pregnancy.
  • Hematologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, such as anemia and leukemia.
  • Hospitalist: A hospitalist is a physician whose focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their duties include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital medicine.
  • Immunologist: An immunologist specializes in managing problems related to the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases. A smaller number of immunologists are strictly researchers seeking to better understand how the immune system works and to help develop better ways of diagnosing and providing treatment for many immunological conditions.
  • Infectious Disease Specialist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
  • Internist: An internist is a 'doctor of internal medicine' who can diagnose, treat, and practice compassionate care for adults across the spectrum, from health to complex illness. They are not to be mistaken with "interns," who are doctors in their first year of residency training.
  • Medical Examiner: Medical examiners are responsible for performing autopsies and collecting evidence related to the circumstances of a death, including medical history, physical examination findings, and toxicology tests.
  • Naturopathic Physician: A naturopathic physician blends modern scientific medical practice and knowledge with natural and traditional forms of medical treatment. The goal is to treat the underlying causes of disease while stimulating the body's own healing abilities.
  • Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. They treat conditions such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, kidney stones, hypertension, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neurologist: A neurologist specializes in treating diseases that affect the human nervous system. It is a very prestigious and difficult medical specialty due to the complexity of the nervous system, which consists of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves.
  • Neurosurgeon: A neurosurgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system. This includes congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine.
  • Obstetrician: An obstetrician is a medical doctor who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
  • Occupational Physician: Occupational medicine is focused on keeping individuals well at work, both mentally and physically. As workplaces become more complex, occupational physicians play an important role in advising people on how their work can affect their health.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The three primary types of oncologists are: medical oncologists that specialize in the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells; surgical oncologists that perform surgical procedures to identify and remove cancerous tumors; and radiation oncologists that treat cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a specialist that deals specifically with the structure, function, diseases, and treatment of the eye. Due to the complexities and the importance of the eye as a special sense that provides vision, the discipline of ophthalmology is dedicated solely to this organ.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral and maxillofacial surgeon treats dental and medical problems involving the oral cavity and the maxillofacial area. The maxillofacial area includes the bones of the forehead, face, cheekbones and the soft tissues. Treatment often involves performing surgery and related procedures to treat diseases, defects, or injuries, and to improve function or appearance.
  • Orthodontist: An orthodontist specializes in how the jaws and teeth are aligned. They help people whose teeth are misaligned or require some kind of correction – those with an improper bite, or malocclusion.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon / Orthopedist: An orthopaedic surgeon (or orthopedist) examines, diagnoses, and treats diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
  • Osteopath: Osteopaths have attended and graduated from an osteopathic medical school and practise the system of healthcare known as osteopathy. They consider all aspects of the patient, not just the symptoms they exhibit. They see the integrated nature of the body’s organ systems and its capacity for self-regulation and self-healing.
  • Otolaryngologist: Otolaryngologists (or ENT physicians) are specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. These specialists are trained in both medicine and surgery.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist studies the causes, nature, and effects of disease. The field of pathology is broad with concentrations on changes in cells, tissues, and organs that are the result of a disease.
  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician specializes in providing medical care to infants, children and teenagers by administering treatments, therapies, medications and vaccinations to treat illness, disorders or injuries.
  • Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in oral inflammation, and who knows how to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A plastic surgeon specializes in reshaping healthy body parts for aesthetic reasons, and also in repairing or replacing body parts damaged by accidents, illness or malformation.
  • Podiatrist: A podiatrist practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, podiatry is practiced as a specialty.
  • Prosthodontist: A prosthodontist specializes in restoring the look, function, comfort, and health of a patient's oral cavity with artificial materials. These artificial materials are made up of a wide variety of restorations that include fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, bridges and oral implants.
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.
  • Pulmonologist: A pulmonologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions and diseases of the chest, particularly pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, and complicated chest infections.
  • Radiologist: A radiologist is a specialist in interpreting medical images that may be obtained with x-rays, (CT scans or radiographs), nuclear medicine (involving radioactive substances, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound.
  • Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
  • Sports Medicine Physician: A sports medicine physician specializes in taking care of people who have sports injuries that may be acquired from playing sports, exercising, or from otherwise being physically active.
  • Surgeon: A surgeon performs surgery for the purpose of removing diseased tissue or organs, to repair body systems, or to replace diseased organs with transplants.
  • Telemedicine Physician: A telemedicine physician provides remote healthcare services to patients using telecommunications technology, facilitating virtual consultations, diagnoses, and treatment recommendations.
  • Urologist: A urologist specializes in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. Urologists can treat the kidneys, urinary bladder, urethra, uterus, and male reproductive organs. There are also specific specialty areas that urologists may choose to focus on, such as pediatric urology, male infertility, and urologic oncology.
  • Vascular Medicine Specialist - A vascular medicine specialist specializes in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels. They may work with patients who have conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Vascular Surgeon - A vascular surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of conditions affecting the blood vessels, including aneurysms, peripheral artery disease, and varicose veins.
  • Veterinary Dentist - A veterinary dentist is a specialized veterinarian who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of dental diseases and conditions in animals. They perform dental procedures such as cleanings, extractions, and oral surgeries to improve the oral health and well-being of pets and other animals.


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See Also
Doctor Allergist Cardiologist Cardiothoracic Surgeon Chiropractor Colorectal Surgeon Dentist Dermatologist Emergency Medicine Physician Endocrinologist Family Practitioner Forensic Pathologist Gastroenterologist Geriatrician Gynecologist Hematologist Hospitalist Immunologist Infectious Disease Specialist Internist Medical Examiner Naturopathic Physician Nephrologist Neurologist Neurosurgeon Obstetrician Occupational Physician Oncologist Ophthalmologist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Orthopedic Surgeon Orthopedist Orthodontist Osteopath Otolaryngologist Pathologist Pediatrician Periodontist Plastic Surgeon Podiatrist Prosthodontist Psychiatrist Pulmonologist Radiologist Rheumatologist Sports Medicine Physician Surgeon Urologist Vascular Medicine Specialist Vascular Surgeon Chiropractic Neurologist Veterinary Dentist Telemedicine Physician

Pros and Cons of Being an Anesthesiologist

Becoming an anesthesiologist can be a highly rewarding career choice with many benefits. However, it is also a demanding profession with some drawbacks.The following are some of the pros and cons of being an anesthesiologist.


  • High earning potential: Anesthesiologists are among the highest-paid medical professionals, with a median annual salary of over $300,000 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Varied work: Anesthesiologists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, surgical centers, and critical care units. This allows for a diverse range of patients and medical procedures.
  • High demand: Anesthesiologists are in high demand, and the need for their services is expected to grow in the coming years as the population ages and the demand for medical procedures increases.
  • Challenging work: Anesthesiologists face complex medical cases and must be able to think quickly and make decisions under pressure.
  • Good work-life balance: Anesthesiologists typically work regular hours, with some on-call duties. This can provide a good work-life balance compared to other medical specialties.


  • Long training: Becoming an anesthesiologist requires a long and rigorous educational process, including four years of medical school, a residency program, and often a fellowship. This can result in significant student loan debt.
  • High stress: Anesthesiologists work in high-stress environments, where they must be able to manage medical emergencies and make quick decisions under pressure.
  • Risk of malpractice claims: As with any medical profession, there is a risk of malpractice claims, which can be stressful and time-consuming.
  • Exposure to radiation: Anesthesiologists who work in operating rooms may be exposed to radiation from x-rays and other medical imaging equipment.
  • Physically demanding: Anesthesiologists may be required to stand for long periods of time and may need to lift and move patients.

Anesthesiologists are also known as:
Attending Anesthesiologist