Monday, November 30, 2009

Anesthesiology, Best Job in America?

When my wife's friends ask her what I do for a living, they all give knowing glances when she says I am an anesthesiologist. It is the look of understanding, with a tinge of envy. They know I have good job security along with excellent pay. For you see, seems like everybody has seen the poll where anesthesiology was named one of the top jobs in America.

I had heard about this poll but had never actually seen it, until now. The poll was conducted by Money magazine and and came out in early October. No, anesthesiology did not get the absolute top ranking for best job in America--we came in at number 11. However, we did rank number one (woohoo!) in median salary, at $292,000. We came in right above OB/GYN, who earn $222,000 and psychiatry at $177,000. Incidentally, CRNA's came in at number four with a median salary of $157,000. I love their job description of CRNA's, "Like the anesthesiologists to whom they report..." I bet that just annoys the hell out of them.

Anesthesiologists also rank highly in top pay, coming in at number two. By their methodology, the top pay in a profession is the 90th percentile on the pay scale. We just lost out to securities traders (don't we wish we could all work for Goldman Sachs?) but again top OB/GYN and psychiatry. Surprisingly attorneys came in only at number six, with the 90th percentile making $262,000. The stories we hear of money grubbing lawyers driving around in their Bentleys only apply to a very small elite. Medicine is much more egalitarian. Most doctors make roughly the same amount of income with much less variability; hardly anybody makes the millions of dollars top lawyers in large law firms can make. But we also don't have new doctors working as glorified clerks like many new law graduates have to endure when they first go into practice.

So overall, anesthesiology ranks number eleven. We get dinged for having a high stress level, which is true. But compared to general surgeons and emergency physicians, who have similar compensation levels, the stresses of anesthesiology is much more tolerable. I also don't see a listing for the other ROAD specialties (radiology, ophthalmology, and dermatology). It would have been interesting to see how these high pay and low stress fields rank relative to anesthesiology. But I can recommend wholeheartedly to any medical student that anesthesiology is a terrific field to specialize into. You can have the high pay, job security, and relatively lower stress levels compared to primary care doctors and surgeons. Plus you'll be the envy of all your spouse's friends. Hard to top that.


  1. I am a practicing anesthesiologist in a large (26 MD, 60 Crna) practice and I find that this is the most Humiliating field in medicine. You bring nothing to the hospital and thus get no respect. you can be replaced overnight by a locums or takeover serviice. you have to kiss a++ endlessly and are treated by administration and OR administration as a member of the OR staff, much like the Surgery Techs and Scrubs. Say what you will about the life of a surgeon, but if you bring CASES to the hospital, you are valuable and will be respected and valued, but if you are a Service Provider, you are vulnerable. Dont ever forget, If you dine with the Devil, you better bring a long spoon.

  2. The Chairman of our department sits on the hospital's Board of Directors so we get some support from the administration here. Anesthesia can be demoralizing; I've previously noted the BS we have to put up with from surgeons and nurses. But at the end of the day, I turn off my beeper and head home to my family. I don't have to worry about some nurse waking me up in the middle of the night because a patient can't sleep. To me that makes anesthesiology as a medical profession worthwhile.

  3. As a practicing anesthesiologist I concur with the above comments. Yes the money is good, but as anyone who makes alot of money knows, money is not everything. Personally the lack of respect within the hospital got so bad that I was miserable. I recently reduced my work hours to maintain my sanity. I am afraid that I expect that things will only get worse, much worse, with the passage of Obamacare, as mid-level nurses are used to replace physicians in a variety of settings.

  4. If you go into pain or critical care, then you could have more respect. Critical care will always remain well within the purview of physicians. The future of this subspecialty looks pretty bright too.

    Similarly pain medicine. This field requires you to employ a lot of the knowledge and skills you acquired as a medical student and resident. You have to take a history and generate a differential diagnosis. You have to test your hypotheses via physical examination and tests. You have to synthesize all of the various data from your history and objective measures to arrive at a diagnosis. You have to formulate a treatment plan. These things are what constitute the traditional practice of medicine.

  5. Your salaries is more higher now!))Congratulation! it's justified
    Anesthesiologist Salary 2011

  6. I can say that becoming a Anesthesiologist was an pretty amazing choice that you made. Good starting salary :)