An anesthesiologist is a physician who works alongside surgeons to regulate a patient’s pain throughout the process of an operation, including before and after. An anesthesiologist’s job duties include monitoring and adjusting the patient’s vital functions — breathing, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate–through the duration of the procedure.

Anesthesiologists can operate with two different degrees, either MD (Doctor of Medicine), or an OD (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). ODs specialize in the musculoskeletal system, including holistic patient care and preventative measures, and are more likely to practice in primary care functions.

Anesthesiologist Job Skills and Education

An anesthesiologist’s job skills can make the difference between a patient living and dying. These doctor’s need a helpful bedside manner as well as the ability to make critical decisions without hesitating as well as the stamina to survive the pressure and gravity of the job.

As with any medical field, a specialty in anesthesiology means a lot of time spent in school. After achieving an undergraduate degree in a number of fields including humanities and science, a prospective physician must undergo a rigorous application process and get into medical school. After graduating with an MD or OD, you must complete a number of years in residency and pass licensure examinations and board certifications. The time you spend as a paid resident is determined by your specialty and where you practice.

Career Outlook for Anesthesiologists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 37,450 anesthesiologists were employed in 2009, with a mean annual wage of $211,750. Primarily employed by physicians’ offices and in hospitals, anesthesiologists can also work in outpatient centers, universities, and other health practitioner offices.

As health care expands and the population ages, the demand for anesthesiologists and other doctors should also grow.