How to Become an Anesthesiologist in Canada

By Tess Campbell Modified on June 09, 2024
Tags : Careers | Health and Wellness | High School

Are you interested in a career in the medical field? Explore what it takes to become an anesthesiologist!

 How to Become an Anesthesiologist in Canada

Are you interested in pursuing a career in medicine? Do you know what kind of medicine you’d want to practice? Why not anesthesiology? Anesthesiologists are vital members of teams of doctors. Becoming an anesthesiologist is no easy accomplishment and requires extensive training. Continue reading to learn more about what an anesthesiologist does, what it takes to become an anesthesiologist in Canada, and how much you could earn!

What is an anesthesiologist?

An anesthesiologist is a medical professional who administers anesthesia to patients. Basically, anesthesiologists give patients the drugs that prevent them from feeling pain or sensation during surgeries and other medical procedures. If a patient is receiving any kind of anesthesia, it must be a trained physician (anesthesiologist) who provides that service.

Anesthesiologists typically work in hospitals, medical centres, specialty clinics devoted to pain management, the military, or even a dentist’s office. Depending on where an anesthesiologist works, they could work a typical 40-hour week, or their role could be more demanding while being on-call, working a 12-hour shift, or working up to 65 hours a week.

What does an anesthesiologist do?

Despite what you may be picturing from medical shows, anesthesiologists are with their patients before, during, and after their surgeries and other procedures.

Before a surgery, an anesthesiologist will meet with the patient to go over medical history to determine what anesthetic should be given. The anesthetic drug is determined by other medications being taken, the type of surgery, and the patient’s health.

During surgery, an anesthesiologist will administer the anesthetic and then continue to monitor the patient’s vitals like breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. The anesthesiologist is meant to ensure the patient’s safety while the surgeon can focus on the surgery aspect.

After surgery, an anesthesiologist will ensure that the patient comes out of the anesthesia safely.

How to become an anesthesiologist in six steps

Becoming an anesthesiologist is no quick task. It takes approximately 13 years of education after high school to become an anesthesiologist in Canada!

Step 1: Undergraduate education

The first step in your journey to becoming an anesthesiologist in Canada is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Luckily, your bachelor’s degree can be in any program that interests you — it doesn’t have to be in a science-related field! Keep in mind that some medical schools in Canada may require you to have a four-year bachelor’s degree instead of a three-year one, like at Western University. Since you can earn a bachelor’s degree in any program before applying to medical school, make sure you choose a program that you love. When you study something that you’re genuinely interested in, you’ll perform better. Your grades are what help get you into medical school, not the level of difficulty your program may appear to be.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take any science or health-related courses at all. Do your research on which medical schools you might apply to so you’re aware of any prerequisite courses you may need to apply. It might also be a good idea to take some science courses since you’ll need a bit of background for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

Step 2: Apply to medical school and write the MCAT

Start your application to medical schools in Canada early! It’s a time-consuming process and can take close to a year. Medical schools want to get to know who you are as a person and a student, so you’ll want to highlight your extracurriculars and volunteering on top of your grades! There are 17 medical schools in Canada that you can apply to, and these are some of the common requirements as part of their applications:

  • GPA
  • The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  • Reference letters
  • Personal statement
  • CASPer Test
  • Criminal record check
  • Interview

For more information on what you can expect from the MCAT, check out this piece on admission tests.

Since medical schools in Canada are extremely competitive, you may also consider studying at a medical school in another country, like the United States, Caribbean, or even the United Kingdom. However, if you choose to study at a medical school outside of Canada, you’ll need to complete additional certifications after you graduate to be eligible to practice in Canada. But, if you choose to study medicine in the UK, you can enter directly out of high school and save yourself four extra years of schooling!

Step 3: Graduate from medical school

Medical schools in Canada take four years to complete. During med school, you’ll take numerous courses and exams on human anatomy, ethics, physiology, and microbiology. You’ll also participate in clinical rotations in the latter years of your degree. Clinical rotations are an important part of your education where you’ll spend time outside of the classroom in the field working alongside doctors. You’ll complete rotations in different specialties like surgery, family medicine, internal medicine, and more. Some schools may even offer a rotation in anesthesiology as well!

Step 4: Complete a residency program in anesthesiology

Now that you have your medical background, you’ll need to participate in a residency program in anesthesiology! A residency is like an extended version of one of your clinical rotations in med school. But you’ll focus on one area of specialty where you’ll receive advanced training. A residency in anesthesiology is usually five years long and includes training in adult and child anesthesiology, obstetric anesthesiology, critical care, and chronic pain management.

You can apply for your residency program using the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS). CaRMS is a portal that allows you to apply to all Canadian residencies in one place. If you want to learn more about your residency options, check out which schools in Canada offer residency programs in anesthesiology.

As a resident, you will be paid for your training. You’ll earn a yearly salary that will increase each year of your residency. Your salary will vary depending on which province you’re doing your residency in, but to get a better idea of what you could expect to be paid, check out the average salary earnings for residents in Canada.

Step 5: Pass the qualification exam

Once you’ve finished your residency in anesthesiology, you must pass the qualification exam from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The qualifying exam for anesthesiologists is divided into two parts: a written and an applied exam. The written exam consists of two sections of multiple-choice questions, each taking three hours to complete. The applied exam is an objective structured clinical examination, meaning you will go through eight different stations of clinical scenarios for 15 minutes each to test your ability to work through a case.

Step 6: Provincial licensing

To practice as an anesthesiologist in Canada, you’ll need to apply to be licensed by your provincial regulatory body. Make sure you check with the province you want to practice in to ensure you meet all of the requirements to apply for licensure. You can find your provincial regulatory body here .

Career prospects

There’s currently a shortage of anesthesiologists in Canada , so if you can handle the 13 years of schooling, then you’ll likely have opportunities waiting for you when you’re licensed! You may also be wondering the big question, “how much do anesthesiologists make in Canada?” On average, anesthesiologists in Canada earn $250,012 per year.

If you think you’ve got the determination and passion to become an anesthesiologist in Canada, then start making your dream a reality by choosing the right education for you.

Start your path to becoming an anesthesiologist with a bachelor’s degree

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