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Characteristics Needed to Be an Anesthesiologist

by Stephen Jeske, studioD

Anesthesiology is a rewarding career that appeals to many medical professionals for its strong patient-doctor relationships and fast-paced environment. The ability to perform at a high academic level is critical for anyone wishing to enter this field as professional anesthesiologists are constantly updating their knowledge to keep pace with new advances and techniques. Since their services extend beyond the operating room, strong communication skills are an important characteristic of successful anesthesiologists.


Active listening, critical thinking, and sound judgment and decision making are all important skills of anesthesiologists. Their detailed knowledge about internal medicine, surgical stress and medications makes them indispensable in the operating room. Neonatal units rely on anesthesiologists to provide mothers with pain relief while managing life functions of both baby and parent, while pain-management clinics use them to diagnose and treat chronic pain problems. Critical care units also value the abilities of anesthesiologists in helping to stabilize the condition of critically ill patients.

Training and Education

A career in anesthesiology requires up to 13 years of post-secondary education. For this reason, reading, comprehension and writing are three important skills critical for success in this field. Academic grades play an important role in this fiercely competitive profession. A four-year bachelor's program needs to be completed to be considered for entry into a medical school. Another four years are required in medical school, followed by a one-year internship and three-year residency. Many anesthesiologists take an additional year, after residency, to further specialize in areas such as cardiac, pediatric or obstetric anesthesiology. After residency, anesthesiologists can take their American Board of Anesthesiology examination. This all-important exam is both written and oral; therefore, good speaking skills are paramount.

Other Skills & Abilities

Anesthesiologists need to be very attentive to their patients' medical condition. During surgery, they diagnose and treat the body with a careful balance of anesthetic medication, ensuring all vital functions remain intact. Monitoring a number of activities, including heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, body temperature and breathing, anesthesiologists need to be proficient at multitasking. However, their activities are not only restricted to the operating room. Chronic pain management is another area requiring the expertise of anesthesiologists. A good bedside manner is helpful in providing these patients with exceptional care during clinical visits.


Though anesthesiologists spend an inordinate number of years training for their profession, they are highly rewarded for their efforts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for anesthesiologists in May 2011 was $234,950. However, in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, the BLS reports that the Medical Group Management Association Physician Compensation and Production Survey reveals anesthesiologists earn the most of all physicians and surgeons, with a 2010 median annual compensation of $407,292. Regardless, anesthesiologists benefit from a strong financial aptitude in managing their large income.

About the Author

Stephen Jeske began writing professionally in 2010 for various websites. He is a former partner in a 49-year-old family business and has been a private investor for over three decades. Jeske holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Specialized Honors Music from York University.

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