One of the most prominent fields of medicine is anesthesiology, the study of drugs used to kill pain. The functions of an anesthesiologist include the administration of anesthetics during operations and the supervision thereof. This article will not be about the profession as such, but about how to prepare for such a career.
Preparation for the program
As with any branch of medicine, the high school student who is looking to become an anesthesiologist should begin by taking as many courses in biology and chemistry as possible. The search for a suitable school should begin during the junior year and be done with the help of the school guidance counselor.
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Components of an anesthesiology program
The information given in this section is taken from the programs at various universities across the country. All of these, like all medical training programs, have both a classroom and a clinical component. The latter covers surgery of various kinds, including pediatric, vascular, obstetric, ambulatory, neurosurgical and cardiothoracic. Depending on the institution, other types of educational opportunities may be available, such as:
- didactic lectures held each day
- simulator training in anesthesiology
- journal clubs
- grand rounds held every Wednesday morning
At the undergraduate level, the standard pre-medical curriculum is followed, consisting of calculus, physics, biology and general and organic chemistry. The student taking these courses can major in any subject and still be admitted to medical school.
There are also residency programs at places such as the Mayo Clinic, for people who have already received a medical degree. Normally, an anesthesiology program lasts for three years, but there are those that combine this system with the one-year transitional residency. Experiences can be tailored to meet the educational goals of the individual student.
Programs in dental anesthesiology
Anesthesiology is also an important branch of dentistry because a dentist anesthetizes the teeth of the patient before performing cavity treatment of any kind – filling the cavity, performing root canal therapy, crowning a tooth or making an extraction. The dental section of most universities thus includes a department or division (the label varies from one institution to another) of anesthesiology, at which the same things are covered as in a medical anesthesiology program. However, there are some special problems involved in injecting an anesthetic into the gums. In addition, bacteria produced by pulp infection can neutralize the effects of the drug, in which case the gums may have to be pierced and a week of penicillin treatment may be necessary.