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Health Care Providers: Anesthesiologists

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What Is Anesthesiology?

Anesthesiology (an-ess-thee-zee-OHL-uh-jee) is a medical specialty that prevents patients from feeling pain or discomfort during surgery or other procedures.

What Is an Anesthesiologist?

An anesthesiologist (an-ess-thee-zee-OHL-uh-jist) is a doctor who gives the medicine (anesthesia) to patients before medical procedures.

Why Would Someone Need One?

Anesthesiologists are needed when someone has a surgery or procedure done by another type of doctor.

Before the procedure, anesthesiologists:

  • explain the type of anesthesia or sedation medicine to be used
  • answer all questions

During and after the procedure, they:

  • give the appropriate amount of medicine
  • carefully watch patients' breathing, heart rate and rhythm, body temperature, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels
  • discuss care after anesthesia
  • share pain-relief techniques for patients to use after surgery

What Is Their Training?

Anesthesiologist training includes:

  • 4 years of pre-medical education at a college or university
  • 4 years of medical school — a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree
  • 1 year of internship training in anesthesiology
  • 3 years of training in a residency in anesthesiology

They may also do a fellowship in a subspecialty such as pediatric or critical care anesthesiology. A “fellow” is a doctor who undergoes more specialty training after completing medical school and a residency.

Good to Know

If your child will have surgery, you’ll meet with the anesthesiologist and sign an informed consent form to OK the use of anesthesia. If you have any questions, make sure they're answered before you sign the form.

Specially trained nurses (nurse anesthetists) can also give anesthesia.

Date reviewed: September 2022