While the path to become an anesthesiologist is long — it will likely take at least 12 years to complete all of the necessary post-secondary education, and several years longer for those who want to specialize or obtain certifications that could enhance job prospects — the job outlook and salary expectations are strong.
Florida is the fifth highest-ranked state for the employment of anesthesiologists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the annual mean wage for an anesthesiologist in Florida was $268,470 in 2019. Employment for physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028, faster than average job trajectories, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which does not collect data on trends for specialties like anesthesiology.
Anesthesiologists work in a variety of industries, with private physician offices being the most common, followed by general medical and surgical hospitals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Important personal qualities to have, as listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics include: communication skills, compassion, attention to detail, dexterity, leadership skills, organizational skills, patience, physical stamina, and problem-solving skills.
Here’s a look at the steps along the path.
To start, you will need a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Medical schools do not require a specific undergraduate major, but coursework in the sciences is typically required. Many applicants also volunteer or intern in health-care organizations; diverse extracurricular activities are encouraged.
- The UF College of Medicine welcomes applicants with all types of degrees but it has minimum science requirements for regular applicants, including general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics.
Applying to medical school to receive a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) is a competitive process that typically requires scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an array of other qualifications that may be demonstrated through extracurricular activities, achievements, and interviews.
- The UF College of Medicine is ranked 19th among public medical schools by U.S. News & World Report and has 1,700 learners, including 559 medical students, 263 graduate students, 120 physician assistant students, and 774 resident physicians.
- Out of over 2,800 completed secondary applications, 135 matriculate into the final class.
- Here are some resources for getting into medical school.
Medical school is typically four years: the first two years are mostly classroom and laboratory studies, while the last two are clinical. At some schools, students can complete an undergraduate and medical degree in 6 to 8 years. Some programs also offer opportunities to obtain MD and PhD degrees in the same program of study, although it might take more than 4 years.
- UF offers the Medical Honors Program, an accelerated 7-year BS/MD program that admits undergraduates who are dedicated to pursuing a career in medicine, as well as an MD-PhD Training Program.
- Most students take Steps 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) during medical school and Step 3 during the first or second year of postgraduate training. The exam assesses the ability “to apply knowledge, concepts, and principles and to demonstrate fundamental patient‐centered skills,” according to the USMLE. The exam materials are created by committees made up of medical educators and clinicians. Step one is about 280 multiple-choice questions and takes about 8 hours. Step two is divided into Clinical Knowledge (about 318 multiple-choice questions over an approximately 9-hour session) and Clinical Skills (12 patient cases: 15 minutes for each patient encounter as well as 10 minutes to record each patient note). Step 3 takes two days: Day 1, Foundations of Independent Practice, is 232 multiple-choice test questions, and Day 2, Advanced Clinical Medicine, is about 180 multiple-choice questions. The 2020 Bulletin of Information provides more details about the test and current policies.
After medical school, graduates need to enter an Anesthesiology Residency program, which typically lasts 4 years and provides in-depth and hands-on learning in clinical and research settings. Graduates of U.S. medical schools are matched with residencies through the National Residency Matching Program.
- At UF, anesthesiology residents spend over half of their time at UF Health Shands Hospital, the UF Health Cancer Center, and the UF Health Heart & Vascular and Neuromedicine hospitals. Other training areas include the Malcom A. Randall North Florida/South Georgia VA Medical Center, the UF Health Children’s Surgical Center, the UF Health Florida Surgical Center, and separate facilities dedicated to pain management.
- Most UF residents complete their Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education-required cases by the end of the Clinical Anesthesiology (CA)-2 year.
- Throughout the CA-1 to CA-3 years, residents rotate through subspecialty operating room clinical rotations taught by faculty specializing in pediatric, obstetric, neurosurgical, cardiac, regional, and outpatient anesthesia.
After residency, you can pursue licensing to begin practicing. However, many students choose to pursue fellowships after residency. Fellowships typically last 1 to 2 years and allow future anesthesiologists to specialize.
- UF offers subspecialty training through seven anesthesiology fellowships: Acute Pain Medicine, Adult Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, Adult Combined Cardiothoracic Critical Care, Critical Care Medicine, Neuroanesthesia, Pain Medicine, and Pediatric Anesthesia.
To practice medicine, all anesthesiologists (as do all doctors) must be licensed by the state where they intend to practice. Requirements vary by state.
- The Florida Board of Medicine requires anyone practicing medicine in the state to hold a valid Florida medical license. Most applicants need to have graduated from an approved medical school, completed at least 1 year of approved residency training, and passed all parts of a national examination (National Board of Medical Examiners [NBME], Federation of State Medical Boards [FLEX], or USMLE). The Florida board has designated the use of the USMLE. In Florida, there is no limit on the amount of time or number of attempts to complete the USMLE. An applicant for licensure taking the USMLE first used in 1994 must achieve a weighted score of no less than 75 on each step to be eligible for licensure in Florida, according to state statute. Applicants who began taking an exam for licensure before 1994 can use a combination of the NBME and FLEX exams. There are continuing education requirements for license renewal.
Anesthesiologists are not required to have any certification to practice, but many do. Board certification is a professional distinction that is a source of pride for upholding high standards in a medical specialty.
- The American Board of Anesthesiology administers board certification and maintenance of certification programs according to standards set by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
- Anesthesiologists can become diplomates (certified anesthesiologists) and also receive certifications in the following subspecialties: Critical Care Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Pediatric Anesthesiology, and Sleep Medicine.
- Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology™ (MOCA 2.0®) is a web-based continuing education program that allows anesthesiologists to demonstrate their commitment to quality care and patient safety. All diplomates with time-limited certificates are obligated to fulfill MOCA requirements to maintain their certifications. More details can be found in the ABA’s policy book.
- UF’s Center for Safety, Simulation & Advanced Learning Technologies (CSSALT) is endorsed to deliver MOCA simulation sessions and is one of about 50 locations to offer a MOCA simulation course. Completion of the simulation course satisfies the Practice Performance Assessment and Improvement component in Part IV of the MOCA®
Check out our post on how to become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) and Certified Anesthesiology Assistants (CAA).