Anesthesiologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

An Anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who is in charge of managing pain and patient sedation before, during and after medical procedures. Their duties include studying medication interactions to select medications, communicating with patients about pain management plans and collaborating with other doctors and surgeons to limit discomfort and relieve pain during an operation.

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Anesthesiologist duties and responsibilities

The responsibilities of an Anesthesiologist include their daily functions, critical tasks and important responsibilities. These duties usually include:

  • Evaluating patients’ vital signs, medical histories, allergies, current medication use, and other risk factors
  • Working with a medical team to design a patient’s treatment plan
  • Supervising nurses when they administer anesthesia to patients before procedures
  • Monitoring vital signs of the patient during surgery and adjusting anesthetics as needed
  • Maintaining detailed notes on patient treatment, dosing and vital signs
  • Continuing care after surgery to control the level of pain relief and consciousness
  • Communicating continuing care instructions to specialists and nurses
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What does an Anesthesiologist do?

Anesthesiologists work at hospitals, clinics and private practices as part of a patient’s medical or surgical team. Some Anesthesiologists work at teaching hospitals where they instruct medical interns, residents and fellows on best practices through hands-on training and mentorship. Anesthesiologists can specialize in a particular field, such as pediatric anesthesiology or chronic pain treatment. Anesthesiologists meet with a patient before surgeries and discuss their care plan which can include administering local or general anesthesia using injections or intravenous lines. They decide the level of sedation a patient needs and determine when to start and stop treatment to keep them safe.

Anesthesiologist skills and qualifications

Certain hard and soft skills are critical to success as an Anesthesiologist. The following skills are common:

  • Proficient knowledge of various medications and their uses
  • Extensive knowledge of physiological and organ support techniques to use during surgical prodcures
  • Ability to remain calm and focused during procedures
  • Highly detail-oriented to design treatment plans and keep accurate records
  • Excellent communication skills to relay information clearly to medical teams and patients
  • Compassion with patients who may be experiencing pain or discomfort

Anesthesiologist salary expectations

The average salary for an Anesthesiologist is $374,812 per year. The exact salary for a qualified Anesthesiologist candidate may vary from this average depending on years of experience, specialty certifications and expertise. 

Anesthesiologist education and training requirements

A doctoral degree is essential for an Anesthesiologist. Successful completion of a four-year Anesthesiology residency program is also required. Anesthesiologist candidates must pass an exam and be licensed to practice medicine in the state in which they work. 

Board certification through the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) or American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) may be required. Certifications in specialty areas such as palliative care, pediatric anesthesiology, dental anesthesiology, neurosurgery, obstetrics and critical care may be required as well. 

Anesthesiologist experience requirements

The role of Anesthesiologist requires extensive clinical and work experience. Additional training and experience working in subspecialty areas may be required. 

Several years of work experience alongside other Doctors or in specific environments (such as dental offices or emergency rooms) may also be necessary. Anesthesiologists working at a management level must have many years of experience working in anesthesiology.

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Frequently asked questions about Anesthesiologists

What are the daily duties of an Anesthesiologist?

On a daily basis, Anesthesiologists spend time performing research, meeting with patients or assisting surgeons during operations. Before a procedure, they spend time studying a patient’s chart and medical history, discussing risk factors with their care team and deciding how much sedation is necessary and appropriate. They meet with the patient and talk to them about what to expect, answering any questions they have. 

During an operation, Anesthesiologists carefully monitor a patient’s vital signs and adjust their sedation techniques in response. After surgery, they follow up with patients to reassess their pain levels during recovery and help them taper off of pain management medications.

What is the difference between an Anesthesiologist and a Nurse Anesthesiologist?

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are nurses who have certification from a nurse anesthesia program and perform basic sedation and pain care procedures such as epidurals and spinal blocks. CRNAs can work independently for hospitals, dentists’ offices, care facilities and home care providers. Anesthesiologists are medical school graduates, and they often supervise CRNAs and have them assist during surgeries. They focus specifically on administering anesthesia, while CRNAs may provide sedation and pain management in addition to more general curative and preventative healthcare.

How many hours a day does an Anesthesiologist work?

Anesthesiologists generally work long hours because of the time commitment of long surgeries. They need to constantly monitor patient vital signs to ensure that they are giving the right amount of medication to the patient at different stages in the surgery, whether the operation takes a few minutes or several hours. The average Anesthesiologist at a private practice spends 10 to 12 hours each day in the office and may have additional hours spent on-call for emergencies. Anesthesiologists who work at hospitals may have even longer shifts to help surgeons respond to emergency traumas and their scheduled surgeries.

What makes a good Anesthesiologist?

A good Anesthesiologist needs keen attention to detail and strong stamina to focus on a patient’s vitals for the entirety of a surgery. Anesthesiologists who assist in surgeries have no margin for error because their choices impact a patient’s life support. They should have good bedside manner and communication skills so that they can provide the best quality of care to patients depending on their symptoms.

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