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How do I Become a Pediatric Anesthesiologist?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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Pediatric anesthesiologists are highly-trained medical doctors who administer anesthesia to young patients undergoing surgical and invasive medical procedures. They have specialized knowledge of the unique concerns of caring for infants and children in operating rooms. A person who wants to become a pediatric anesthesiologist must earn a medical degree, participate in a general anesthesia residency program, and complete a yearlong fellowship dedicated to the specialty. With the appropriate training and success on a licensing exam, a doctor can become a pediatric anesthesiologist at a children's hospital or an outpatient surgical center.

A person who wants to become a pediatric anesthesiologist generally needs to first complete a bachelor's degree program. He or she can prepare for medical school by majoring in biology or a health-related subject. Many future doctors apply for internships or entry-level medical aide positions at local doctor's offices while working on their degrees to gain valuable firsthand experience in the health-care field. Near the end of a bachelor's degree program, an individual can submit applications to accredited medical schools and take a written national admissions exam.

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Once accepted to a school, a student can expect to spend the first two years primarily in lecture and laboratory courses. New students receive detailed instruction in a number of different subjects, including organic chemistry, disease pathology, and physiology. Many schools feature courses related to the practice of anesthesiology either as part of the core curriculum or elective options for students who are interested in the field. The last two years of medical school usually involve continued lab work and rotating internships at a local hospital. A successful student can earn a Doctor of Medicine degree and begin applying for a general medicine internship.

The yearlong internship is usually similar to the one completed as a medical school student. A new doctor has the opportunity to observe and assist professionals in many different specialties, including pediatrics. Upon completion of the internship, an individual can enter a three-year residency program in general anesthesiology. As a resident, a doctor continues to attend lectures and labs while also working alongside established anesthesiologists. He or she develops hands-on skills and knowledge that are essential to become a pediatric anesthesiologist.

Doctors who want to enter general anesthesiology positions can do so immediately after completing their residencies, but a person who wants to become a pediatric anesthesiologist usually needs to gain additional training. A one-year fellowship provides a rigorous introduction to the specialty, wherein a new anesthesiologist works long hours in operating rooms under the supervision and guidance of mentoring doctors. After completing the fellowship, he or she can take a board certification exam to earn a license and begin practicing unsupervised.

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