You've heard about the great incomes that anesthesiologists make. You long for the legendary lifestyle of working with propofol and volatile anesthetics. So now you're wondering what it takes to become an anesthesiologist.
You could search through the history of this blog to get all the scintillating details of anesthesiology as a career. Or you can read through this nice little article from Forbes on the process of becoming an anesthesiologist.
It details the long education process necessary to earn the title, at least a decade of schooling and training after high school. First you have to earn a Bachelor's Degree, which takes at least four years. Then there is another four years of medical school to become a physician. That doesn't include the extra time some students take get another degree like an MPH, PhD, or JD. After that, with any luck you will match into an anesthesiology residency, which is getting harder all the time. There you will spend four more years of anesthesia training to just qualify for taking the anesthesia boards. But that's not the end of the line. Most anesthesia residents now take another year for a fellowship like cardiac, pediatric, or pain medicine. Add it all up and it's a minimum of twelve years to become become board eligible to sit for your certification exams.
Phew. It's not an easy road to earn the moniker of anesthesiologist. If that path is too daunting, Forbes has some alternative choices which involves some anesthesia work. You could become an anesthesia technician, which only takes two years. Or you could be an anesthesia assistant, which requires a bachelor's degree and needs about six years total. Or you could become a CRNA, which takes about seven to ten years.
While the article in general is fairly accurate, I have a quibble with their assertion that board certification is optional to be an anesthesiologist. That may have been true fifty years ago, but nowadays, no hospital will hire you if you are not at least board eligible working towards certification. I know anesthesiologists a generation older than me who were grandfathered into their positions despite not ever having been board certified, but that generation is quickly retiring or dying off so now almost every anesthesiologist is BE/BC. That is not the same thing as having limited vs lifetime board certification, which is a whole other discussion.
If you're curious about how well trained anesthesiologist are, and why we're not just frustrated surgeon wannabes, take a careful read of Forbes. You'll realize that anesthesiologists are some of the best trained physicians in the country.