CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become an anesthesiologist.
Is becoming an anesthesiologist right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
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Graduate from high school, paying special attention to science classes (biology, chemistry, physics & physiology).
Medical College Admission Test
Take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). You can prepare for this test by taking practice exams, or enrolling in an MCAT preparatory course. Your scores from this exam plus your transcript will be the basis of your acceptance to medical school.
Medical school will take four years to complete. You will either earn a Doctor of Medicine degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, both of which will qualify you to become an anesthesiologist.
Anesthesiology residency will take four years to complete. Residents will receive clinical training where they will work in a hospital and provide medical care to patients under supervision. After the four years of residency are complete, the resident will be eligible to take the American Board of Anesthesiology examination.
Many physicians at this point decide to complete an additional one-year fellowship after their four-year residency. This allows them to focus on a specialized field like cardiac or pediatric anesthesiology.
The physician will need to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and/or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) to obtain licensure to practice medicine in the US.
Board certification is optional. Not all anesthesiologists are board-certified, but most (90%) are. Board certification demonstrates a physicians' expertise and commitment to the practice. Completing the anesthesiology board certification exams indicates mastery of anesthesiology, as well as a professional commitment to adhere to the ABPS Medical Code of Ethics.