Last updated December 31, 2014

Even the most routine surgeries can be risky when a patient undergoes anesthesia. In some cases, irregularities in blood pressure or heart rate during surgery can lead to grave consequences. Imagine how important it is to administer just the right dose of medication to an infant whose organs are still underdeveloped and who cannot speak to tell you that he's in pain.

It’s the job of the anesthesiologist to take these factors into consideration and to monitor a patient's pulse, temperature, and other vital signs throughout surgery.

Anesthesiologists work with other doctors to give patients medication that relieves pain during surgery. They also monitor patients' vital functions throughout an operation.

Did You Know?

If you want to specialize in critical care or pain medicine, you'll need to take on extra training.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Spend years studying and training, and a lifetime keeping up with advances in your field
  • Concentrate intently for long periods
  • Make sure patients are safe and pain-free
  • Work for long hours in an operating room
  • Balance heavy workloads with your personal life

It Helps To Be...

Self-motivated and able to work long hours under pressure. It also helps to be a strong decision maker and a good communicator. Anesthesiologists must be especially calm and cooperative since they work so closely with a team during surgery -- always a potentially tense situation.

Make High School Count

  • Take plenty of challenging math and science courses, including AP courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus.
  • Enhance your communication skills through English composition, speech, and drama classes.
  • Sign up for psychology to learn about human nature and explore the mind-body connection.
  • Volunteer at a health clinic, a hospital, a women’s clinic, or an elder-care facility.

Did You Know?

In addition to passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination, you'll need to take certification exams given by the American Board of Anesthesiology.