Medical School

After completing a four-year bachelor’s degree, students then take four years of graduate education leading to a degree in medicine (M.D.) or osteopathy (D.O.). They spend four more years in an anesthesiology residency (there are about 160 anesthesiology medical residency programs in the United States). Some residents take one more year of study, called a fellowship, in a specific area of anesthesiology such as critical care medicine, pain medicine, research or education.

There is one important decision you must make before deciding to become an anesthesiologist: Do you want to become a physician? Medical school is designed to give students the widest range of choices, rotating them through all the different areas of medicine. Some medical students will find that they are drawn to anesthesiology because of its intense doctor-patient relations combined with the use of cutting-edge technologies and a fast-paced environment. They will find that anesthesiologists’ training overlaps into internal medicine, critical care, obstetrics and pain medicine, to name a few, and deals with emergency cases, organ transplants and all types of surgeries–from head to toe.

There is a wealth of information available from the Association of American Medical Colleges , including a complete listing of medical schools. Students considering enrollment in a medical school are often required to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), as part of their admission decision process.

Upon completion of medical school, students in the United States participate in what is called the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), also called “the Match.” This is when students who want a particular school are “matched” with residency programs looking for that type of student. ASA has information about previous NRMP results that you can review. For a list of all anesthesiology residency programs in the United States, check out: and click on “Members.”

ASA is proud to be able to offer a “Medical Student Membership” that allows med students to have a glimpse of the profession, even before deciding if anesthesiology is the specialty they wish to pursue. For more information about the benefits of Medical Student Membership, contact the ASA Membership Department.


There is additional information about the ASA Resident Component, including the members of the ASA Resident Component Governing Council who can answer your questions about being a resident in anesthesiology.

There are about 160 anesthesiology residency programs in the United States. For a list of anesthesiology residency programs in the United States, check the Association of Anesthesiology Program Directors and the Society of Academic Anesthesiology Chairs web site and click on “Members.”

Following successful completion of a residency program in anesthesiology, residents become eligible to sit for the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) examination. Almost 90 percent of anesthesiologists are “board-certified,” meaning that they passed the written and oral examinations of the ABA, and all anesthesiologists must be licensed to practice medicine in their state. Additional certification is available from ABA in critical care and pain management.

In mid-September, ASA sends out the “Starting Out: A Practice Management Guide for Anesthesiology Residents” to all residents in our membership database who will complete their training the following year. If you are a CA-4 resident who has not received a copy of this helpful booklet, please contact the ASA Membership Department.

ASA also offers placement information for residents or other anesthesiologists looking to relocate.