We tend to assume everyone sporting a lab coat and stethoscope is bringing home the big bucks — and that's certainly more true for doctors in some medical specialties than it is for doctors in others.
Like in every field, some medical specialties have higher salaries than others. Anesthesiologists are the highest paid, followed by surgeons, gynecologists, and orthodontists.
In this blog, we explore the most lucrative medical specialty - anesthesiology.
Don't we all refer to an anesthesiologist as the doctor who puts patients to sleep before surgery? While it’s true that administering anesthetics is part of their job, it’s only a small part! An anesthesiologist is a perioperative physician, where peri means all-around. So, an anesthesiologist is responsible for patient care throughout the surgical experience: before, during, and after the surgery itself. An anesthesiologist also has many responsibilities outside the surgical suite (operating room).
Anesthesiologists are involved in around 90 percent of the more than 40 million surgical procedures that are carried out under anesthetic each year in the United States.
Some of the duties of an anesthesiologist during surgery include:
- Continuous monitoring of vital signs
- Monitoring of the level and depth of anesthesia
- Making adjustments if necessary
- Recognition of any potentially life-threatening emergencies and timely intervention
- Ensuring the safety of the patient at all times
Like all medical disciplines, anesthesiology is a sufficiently complex field of study, divided into several subspecialties. While those pursuing the field are initially trained in anesthesiology as a whole, they often choose to specialize in a particular area as they move through residency training.
The following are some subspecialties within anesthesiology:
Cardiac anesthesia for heart surgery
Pediatric anesthesia for pain management and anesthetics in children
Neuroanesthesia, related to surgery for the nervous system, brain, and spinal cord
Obstetrics for offering pain relief during labor and delivery
Other areas of medical care include pediatric anesthesia (pain management and anesthetics in children), care of the dying in hospice, and palliative care.
To begin a career in anesthesiology, you must first graduate from high school paying special attention to science classes with physics, chemistry, and biology as compulsory subjects.
Then, get a bachelor's degree from a university (four years). While a subject major is not a requirement, it would be wise to major in biology, neuroscience, chemistry, or nutrition science.
You must then appear for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), which is required for admission to medical school. 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.
Finally, anesthesiology residency will take four years to complete.
Like all physicians, anesthesiologists must earn and maintain a national Board license and meet any state-specific requirements before they can practice, which generally requires 1-4 years of postgraduate training. To practice within a specialty, anesthesiologists must earn additional specialist certifications.
As stated earlier, anesthesiologists are among the highest-paid medical professionals. But how much do they really earn?
As per data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), anesthesiologists earned an average yearly salary of $271,440 in 2020, over 300?ove the national average salary.
If the lucrative pay isn't enough to inspire you to pursue a career in anesthesiology, here's another plus - this profession is expected to witness a 5.7% rise in employment opportunities through 2030.
While most anesthesiologists work in hospitals or surgical outpatient clinics, positions also exist with research institutions to study and improve anesthesia procedures, monitoring guidelines, and equipment. In addition, as people live longer, more active lives and refuse to accept pain as a natural part of aging, some anesthesiologists are entering the growing field of pain management medicine.