Anesthesiologists make it possible for surgeons and physicians to perform surgical procedures, however, some countries are facing a severe shortage of this type of doctor.
It’s hard to fathom that at one time, painful surgical procedures were performed without the use of anesthesia. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that pain-numbing substances, such as nitrous oxide, chloroform, and ether anesthesia were used for tooth extractions, child labor, and surgical procedures. Nearly 100 years later, the field of anesthesiology was formally recognized as a medical specialty. Today, with all the surgical procedures performed, it’s hard to imagine a world without anesthesia, and the doctors who administer it.
The Role of the Anesthesiologists
An anesthesiologist is best known as the doctor who administers anesthesia prior to a surgical procedure. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), anesthesiologists are the bridge between medicine and surgery. They are medical doctors who have extensive training in how the body works. Anesthesiologists pay especially close attention to how certain organs function, including the brain, heart, and kidneys. They work in private practices, as well as hospitals, surgical centers, and interventional-cardiology suites.
Besides preparing patients for surgery, they also provide pain management advice, give assessments in critical care units, and deal with emergency situations. Some anesthesiologists are self-employed, which means they may also perform administrative duties and work with anaesthetic billing companies to get reimbursed by insurance companies for their services.
The Demand for Anesthesiologists
While anesthesiologists play a crucial role in the medical industry, the reality is, that in some countries there are not enough trained anesthesiologists to meet the medical needs of their patients. This is especially true in third-world countries, but even developed countries, like Australia have a severe shortage of anesthesiologists. According to a study published in 2009, unless important steps were taken, Australia was on track to have a significant shortage of anesthesiologists by the year 2028.
Due to the shortage, anesthesiologists are in high demand all around the world, including the United States. According to some reports, the demand for anesthesiologists is expected to grow by 10 to 20 percent over the next decade. It’s an exciting career choice, but a demanding one as well. In order to become an anesthesiologist, it’s necessary to go through a four-year premed program, pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), go to medical school, and then complete a four-year residency in anesthesiology.
Once they are hired in a medical facility, or become self-employed, it’s not uncommon for anesthesiologists to work at least 60 hours a week. On the upside, anesthesiologists in the United States make good money. The average annual salary is $369,346, with the highest 10 percent earning $473,701. They are also paid well in other countries. In Australia, the average salary is $466,877 (AUD) a year and in Canada they make $382,914 (CAD) a year.