Written by Joanna Hughes

Anesthesiology recently made Insider Monkey’s roundup of the 10 happiest medical specialties with the most satisfied doctors. Responsible for administering general or regional anesthesia to patients, anesthesiologists are also tasked with monitoring patients’ vital signs and critical life functions before during and after surgery.

Certainly, anesthesiology is an important field (anesthesiologists haven’t been deemed “the silent force behind the scene” for no reason), and also one with its fair share of responsibilities. Wondering whether it’s right for you? Check out these five reasons to study anesthesiology.

1.  It’s an exhilarating field.

Anesthesiologists may put people to sleep, but their jobs are anything but a snooze due to their acute nature. While many medical professionals work in ambulatory (AKA outpatient) settings, the work of anesthesiologists takes place in more acute situations.

Proposes The Anesthesia Consultant, “Some doctors enjoy sitting in a clinic 40+ hours a week, talking to and listening to patients. Other doctors prefer acute care, where more exciting things happen moment to moment...Ordering diagnostic studies and prescribing a variety of pills suits certain M.D.’s, but acute care in operating rooms and intensive care units is more stimulating. It’s exciting controlling a patient’s airway, breathing, and circulation. It’s exciting having a patient’s life in your hands. Time flies.”

2. You’ll enjoy a lot of variety.

Again, while the work of an anesthesiologist may seem limited on paper, in reality, it is extremely varied. Anesthesiologists care for patients of all ages across a broad range of medical conditions. From heart and brain surgeries to births and traumas, anesthesiologists work on many different types of cases.

Enthuses anesthesiologist Alex Macario of his decision to become an anesthesiologist, “I feel very fortunate to have had a satisfying career in academic medicine. Every day is different, and most days I do something I have never done before, such as using the latest medication or device in the OR, taking care of a patient with a recently developed procedure, or working with my research team on some original aspect of the economics of healthcare.”

If you like technology, meanwhile, anesthesiology is also alluring. “Anesthesiologists work with a lot of cool gadgets and advanced technology. The modern anesthesia workstation is full of computers and computerized devices we use to monitor patients. The modern anesthesia workstation has parallels to a commercial aircraft cockpit,” continues The Anesthesia Consultant.

3. Work-life balance is within reach.

Sure the work of anesthesiologists is demanding inside the hospital, but outside of the hospital anesthesiologists have the unusual benefit of being able to walk away. In fact, a whopping 50 percent of anesthesiologists claim they can take a whopping four weeks of vacation annually -- making anesthesiology the top medical specialty in this respect, according to Insider Monkey. Because of this, it is often characterized -- alongside dermatology and radiology -- as a “lifestyle” profession.

This isn’t to say the schedule of an anesthesiologist isn’t intense. In describing his typical workday to the Student Doctor Network (SDN), anesthesiologist William Baker said, “I usually get in about 6 am, to start evaluating patients and getting ready for surgeries starting at 7-7:30. Then I do all of the cases assigned to me for the day. Some days are lighter than others. If I’m not on call, I can usually count on getting out of the OR by 3 pm or so, otherwise I will stay until all cases are done, often coming home after my family is in bed.”

4. You’ll get to help people.

Being in the hospital is a stressful and scary experience. Anesthesiologists are uniquely positioned to bring comfort to patients and their families through pain relief. This can be a very fulfilling experience.

5. You’ll make big bank.

While money should never be the primary reason to pursue a particular profession, it can be a major selling point -- particularly when it comes to anesthesiologist salaries. In fact, anesthesiologists claim the number one spot on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Best Paying Jobs. Not only is the median salary for anesthesiologists an impressive $208,000, but the employment rate is just .5 percent.

And then there’s the potential for growth ahead. “Anesthesiologists still work in hospital operating rooms, but their expertise is also needed in other places, including invasive radiology, gastrointestinal endoscopy, electrophysiology and more. In fact, the profession is expected to grow by 18 percent through 2026, with 5,900 new jobs,” explains U.S. News & World Report.

One last thing to keep in mind? Even if you’re not up for becoming a medical doctor, you can still enjoy a satisfying career in the field of anesthesiology.  Several other anesthesiology careers offer many of the same benefits, including anesthesiologist assistants, anesthesia technicians and anesthesia technologists.

Looking for a less traveled medical speciality, meanwhile? Check out our roundup of Five Uncommon Medicine Specialities (and Subspecialities) Worth Considering



ArticleEducationStudent Tips
Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
By Joanna Hughes
February 4, 2019

While there are many different ways to join the fight against cancer, several careers will uniquely position you to make a difference. What better occ...

By Joanna Hughes
January 28, 2019

When the majority of medical students graduate, they swear to some form of an oath holding them to the highest code of conduct. Front and center in th...