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What is the job outlook for anesthesiology?


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July 07, 2008 7:45PM

As an anesthesiologist for the past 12 years, I have seen the demand for anesthesiologists swing widely. A great deal of the swing was related to factors which were unpredictable. Specifically, a workforce needs projection report in the early 90's predicted (incorrectly) that there was an oversupply of anesthesiologists. This lead to a sudden reduction in the number of medical graduates choosing to enter the field. In the years subsequent to this report, the number of anesthesiology residency graduates peaked, and then declined significantly. In fact, the need for anesthesiologists clearly exceeded the availability, and by the mid-90's, anesthesiologists were in demand, with starting salaries rising proportionally to the demand. Currently anesthesiologist employment outlook still is good although a multitude of factors may dramatically change this. Such factors include the ongoing decline in reimbursement of anesthesiollogists (and other medical specialities), a potential shift in the reimbursement structure to a single payor government system (thus basically making reimbursement non-negotiable), and the aging of the current population of anesthesiologists. Overall, in my opinion, the outlook for anesthesiologists as a medical specialty is somewhere between average to good. The outlook for medical specialties in general as far as income potential is poor to bleak.