What advice do you have for students looking into anesthesiology career? Do you believe the hard work in med school is worth it?
Although I'm only a freshman in high school, I plan to go into the medical field as a future career, specifically anesthesiology. I've heard that pre-med and medical school have rigorous and difficult courses and exams. Do the benefits that come with anesthesiology outweigh the stressful years of school?
Michelle raised an important consideration—any field of medicine entails delayed gratification. Most of your non-medical friends will be finished school and progressing in their careers before you’re done with medical school and still facing 3-7 years of post-graduate (residency) training. You have to love what you do or you’ll be very unhappy. But if you do love it then the years and hard work will mostly fly by in a sense of gratification, achievement and humility at the privilege of knowing the human body, and each patient, so intimately.
I don’t mean to sound so philosophical but you are probably capable of reaching any goal if you are considering medicine and I’m generalizing instead of addressing your question specifically about anesthesia, a field I found immensely satisfying, because as you read in previous answers you really don’t know what aspect of medicine will ultimately inspire you until you start experiencing them. However, all of them demand years of work and study, ultimately 11-15 years of formal education after high school. Was it worth it to me? You bet! I still can’t think of anything I would rather have done but you can’t get in it for the money or respect or to make your parents proud. As I told my daughter you can only do it for yourself, because you love it more than any other pursuit.
From my experience it is invaluable to be motivated and interested in a specific field from early on. All my research and time invested from high school through medical school was towards Orthopedic Surgery. When I finally rotated through the field of Anesthesiology in 4th year medical school is when I realized this was my calling and changed course. My passion for a specific field was evident in my residency application and it landed me my number one residency choice in Anesthesiology. If you enjoy something, most of the time it won't even feel like hard work. It'll be more like a sport or race that you enjoy and take pride being part of the rigorous course- embrace the setbacks and loses, that's where most growth occurs.
Pick a major that interests you so you don't mind devoting a majority of your hours to studying. You will need to get good grades in college in order to apply for medical school. At the medical school I attended, the average GPA is reported to be 3.85, so even one or two B's can hurt your chances of acceptance.
Aside from this, any major is acceptable as long as you complete the prerequisite courses. I chose to major in biochemistry because there was overlap with the premed requirements and I wanted to complete my degree in 3 years.
Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters
Try to find opportunities to pursue research.
Volunteer at your local hospital or low-income clinic. Ask physicians, PAs or other clinical providers if you can shadow them.
During college study for and complete the MCAT. Devote an entire summer to studying for the MCAT and consider paying for a prep course if you can afford it.
My son used MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review 2019-2020: Online + Book + 3 Practice Tests (Kaplan Test Prep) Kaplan Test Prep
It was about $140 and he achieved his goal score.
Apply to medical schools during your last year of college.
Yes! It is absolutely worth it. There are a lot of long hours studying in the library followed by long hours in the hospital, but it is a fulfilling career. There are so many opportunities after medical school... different specialties appeal to different individuals. Or you can follow a nonclinical route in research or even hospital administration.
I recently retired from my long career as a pediatric anesthesiologist. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing! Being an anesthesiologist allows you to have a life outside the hospital. Yes, you may be on call at night, and in the hospital, but there is control over your schedule. I started out in surgery, but didn't like it. I switched to a residency in anesthesiology never having rotated through anesthesia. It was a perfect fit. I loved being in an OR. An anesthesiologist has to make quick decisions and must know so much about surgery and medicine. Being an anesthesiologist is often compared to being an airline pilot, with good reason. There's take off, landing, and everything in between. The teamwork in an OR is very gratifying. There are many women anesthesiologists, which is also gratifying and indicative of the kind of life you can have with a family and a satisfying career. So yes, the hard work in med school is more than worth it.
4 years of medical school
4 years of residency in anesthesia
12 years total is no small commitment
Additionally, you will have to take multiple entrance exams and have to maintain a GPA > 3.5
It is not an easy career, but it can be very fulfilling
TL DR; It was totally worth it for me to go into anesthesiology. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
If you know you want to be a doctor and you are in high school/college study hard and get good grades. The competition can be tough but if you stay focused and you want it you can make it happen.
As far as a speciality, make sure you try out lots of specialities before picking one. Anesthesiology is great but it isn’t for everyone. But in medicine there is a wide range of different types of doctors and you will find the one that fits best while in medical school and keeping an open mind.
As for medicine- If you are asking whether you should do it or not, you likely should look elsewhere. You really do need to be that committed.
I am a pediatric anesthesiologist with 15y experience-