When undergoing a surgery, people usually don’t pay much attention to the anesthesia they’re receiving. Understandably, they’re much more likely to focus on the outcome of the surgery, ignoring everything else.
But though they get less recognition than surgeons, anesthesiologists have one of the most responsible jobs in the medical industry. Administering anesthesia safely is a difficult process that requires a lot of planning. It can be just as risky as the surgery itself.
Keeping this in mind, it’s no surprise that this is one of the highest-paid professions in medicine. So how much do anesthesiologists make? Keep reading to find out.
How Much Do Anesthesiologists Make on Average?
The national average income of an anesthesiologist in the US is $371,527 per year. Depending on multiple factors, experience being the most important one, an anesthesiologist’s salary can go from $243k to $574k. Here’s a breakdown of an anesthesiologist’s salary according to their years of experience:
- 1 – 3 years – $243k – $454k ($346k on average)
- 4 -6 years – $254k – $471k ($358k on average)
- 7 – 9 years – $275k – $513k ($389k on average)
- 10 – 14 years – $292k – $543k ($412k on average)
- 15+ years – $308k – $574k ($436k on average)
This kind of income puts anesthesiologists near the very top in the medical industry. Of course, the job wouldn’t pay so much if it wasn’t extremely challenging. So let’s take a look at what exactly it is that anesthesiologists do.
The Responsibilities of Anesthesiologists
If you’re about to have surgery, you only see your anesthesiologist show up with a combination of medications they give you. However, their job starts much sooner, no matter the patient. Before the surgery begins, anesthesiologists need to:
- Discuss the patient’s current state with other physicians and surgeons
- Review the patient’s history of illnesses and medications
- Check for any allergies or sensitivities
- Closely examine the patient’s state and follow up on any concerns
- Find the appropriate medications to administer to the patient
Obviously, administering local anesthesia is much easier, and it comes with fewer risks than general anesthesia does. It’s the latter that makes the job of an anesthesiologist extremely delicate and stressful.
After putting the patient in a state of controlled unconsciousness, anesthesiologists need to constantly monitor the patient’s vitals and adjust the medications accordingly. Many anesthetics are so powerful that even a minor mistake in the dosage can be fatal. The same goes for the combinations of different anesthetics, which need to be carefully planned in advance.
After the surgery is done, an anesthesiologist makes sure that the patient regains consciousness smoothly, and they also ease any post-op pain and discomfort.
Another thing that makes this job very hard is working under immense pressure. In emergency situations, anesthesiologists need to keep a cool head and act very quickly. They have to retain their focus, no matter how alarming the state of the patient may be.
Another reason why an anesthesiologist’s job is so well-paid is the long years of education and training required to pursue this career.
Like all other physicians, the first step towards becoming an anesthesiologist is graduating a 4-year college with the appropriate pre-med track that involves subjects like chemistry, advanced math, and physics.
Upon receiving a bachelor’s degree, anesthesiologists need to enroll in medical school, which lasts another four years. Usually, they’ll spend the first two years doing classwork, while the remaining two involve work in a hospital setting.
This is where prospective anesthesiologists first interact with patients in need of anesthesia. They are supervised by experienced physicians, and learn how to apply their knowledge to real-life situations.
Having graduated medical school, anesthesiologists need to complete a four-year residency. After this, some anesthesiologists decide to complete an additional one-year fellowship.
The extensive educational requirements are the reason why anesthesiologists rarely start their career before their 30s. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to complete their education but it equips them with all the necessary knowledge and skills for the job.
Job Growth Trends
While choosing your career, it’s always important to see whether your job will be viable in the future. If you’re considering anesthesiology as an option, you should know that this is the fastest-growing specialty in the medical industry. According to data from 2016, there will likely be around 5,100 new jobs for anesthesiologists by the year 2026. The projected growth is 15%.
One of the main reasons for this is the aging population. It’s expected that there will be more hospital admissions in the near future, and these elderly patients will require close monitoring and care. In addition to this, we can expect to see more complex surgical procedures as technology keeps evolving.
Is Becoming an Anesthesiologist Worth the Effort?
As you can see, the road to becoming an anesthesiologist is quite hard. But true responsibility starts when an anesthesiologist begins their career. Of course, the salary is more than good enough to ensure a comfortable life for the majority of people, but the price for that is all the stress that anesthesiologists are put under on a daily basis. The strain of the job can have a significant effect on their personal lives.
However, most anesthesiologists will tell you that they love their job. Every medical profession is a noble one, and being able to help people in need is one of the most fulfilling things any professional can do.
Is This the Career for You?
When it comes to medical professions, money shouldn’t be your main reason for pursuing a career. No matter how much you might make, you’re very likely to come to the conclusion that it just isn’t worth it unless you have something else that drives you.
If you’re willing to devote the necessary time and effort to becoming an anesthesiologist, and you can see yourself working in a high-pressure environment, it might be a fitting job for you. The responsibility is incredibly high, and so is the reward. If you truly love the job, the investment will pay off in more ways than one.