How to Become an Anesthesiologist

How to Become an Anesthesiologist

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

To become an anesthesiologist, you must first earn a bachelor's degree. You need to take a premed program course in college because you must go to medical school.

A course load for premed might look like the following:

Grade Level Example Courses
Freshman
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Biology & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Sophomore
  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology & Lab
  • Genetics
  • Physiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Junior
  • Cell Structure & Function
  • General Virology & Lab
  • Microbial Genetics & Lab
  • Biochemistry I
  • Biochemistry II
  • Physics
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
Senior
  • Upper Level Biology
  • Upper Level Chemistry
  • Upper Level Physics
  • Upper Level Psychology
  • Upper Level Kinesiology
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

Be sure to keep your grades high, as medical school admissions are very competitive you will need at least a 3.0. You need to start prepping for the MCAT as well, because you need to take it to advance.

2. Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

Section Section Breakdown
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics
Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 52 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tess reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the MCAT website. If you are unsatisfied with your score on any of the aforementioned exams, you are free to retake them. Depending on the school, some will average your scores and others will simply take your most recent.

3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)

You have two program choices in medical school to become an anesthesiologist: a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program.

Each degree focuses on the same methods of treatment, but a DO degree also focuses on osteopathic manipulative medicine. Whichever path you choose, you are facing 4-5 years in medical school.

Your first couple of years will focus on the following:

  • Basic pathology
  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Other life sciences

In the second half of the program, you will work with doctors and other healthcare professionals to advance your skills and focus in on anesthesia.

You will also be taught to record medical histories, examine patients and diagnose illnesses and other necessary things for becoming an anesthesiologist.

4. Complete a Residency Program (4 Years)

After medical school, you have to complete an accredited residency. The program is focused on giving students hands-on experience in a clinical setting.

During this time, you will be supervised by other healthcare professionals and get hands on training to build upon your skills and confidence, to allow you independent practice.

During your residency, you can expect to work from two-to-three years in a clinical or hospital setting. It's here you can really hone in on your skills and build upon your knowledge.

5. Take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)

In order to practice medicine, aspiring geriatricians must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This exam is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

The exam consists of three steps:

Step & Purpose Format & Other Info

Step 1

Assesses the ability to apply scientific concepts, basic to practicing medicine, emphasizing mechanisms underlying health, disease, and therapy.

  • 310 multiple-choice questions
  • Divided into 7 60-minute blocks
  • Administered via computer One day session

Step 2

Divided into 2 sub-steps: clinical knowledge (CK) & clinical skills (CS).

The clinical knowledge section assesses the ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and clinical science to patient care.

The clinical skills section assesses the ability to gather information from patients, perform physical exams, and communicate findings with colleagues.

  • Clinical Knowledge
    • 350 multiple-choice questions
    • Divided into 8 60-minute blocks
    • One day session
  • Clinical Skills
    • 12 patient cases
    • 15 minutes per patient case
    • 10 minutes to record each patient note (PN)
    • Administered at 6 test centers in the US: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, & Philadelphia.
    • One day session

Step 3

Divided into 2 sub-steps: Foundations of Independent Practice (FIP) & Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM)

Foundations of Independent Practice assesses the knowledge and principles essential for effective health care.

Advanced Clinical Medicine assesses the ability to apply knowledge of health and disease to the context of patient management and an evolving disease.

  • Foundations of Independent Practice
    • 260 multiple-choice questions
    • Divided into 6 60-minute blocks, each w/ 44 questions
    • One day session
  • Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM)
    • 200 multiple-choice questions
    • Divided into 6 45-minute blocks, each with 33 questions
    • 13 computer-based case simulations, each allotted 10 or 20 minutes
    • One day session

If you graduate from a DO program, you can take the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).

6. Earn the Required Certification

Once you get your medical license, you can take the the examination for board certification through the American Board of Anesthesiology.

The ABA is also the issuing body for certifications in subspecialties and the Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology Program (MOCA).