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Anesthesia Specialty at a Glance

Students interested in a career in anesthesia need to have a working knowledge of a wide variety of medical and surgical problems. Students should pursue fourth-year clinical rotations that give the student responsibility for the diagnosis and treatment of diverse patients.

Match Statistics

Mean USMLE Step 2 CK score: 248
25th percentile USMLE Step 2 CK: 239
75th percentile USMLE Step 2 CK: 256
Average number of research experiences: 3
Average number of abstracts, presentations and publications: 4
Program signals for 2023 match: 5 gold, 10 silver (15 total)

  • Why should a student choose anesthesia?

    Anesthesiologists are responsible for patient’s vitality providing monitored anesthesia care, regional anesthesia/analgesia, and general anesthesia to enable proceduralists ranging from neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, obstetricians, urologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists and cardiologists.

    A student should consider this specialty if:

    • They have a solid foundation in cardiopulmonary physiology, pharmacology and acid/base physiology

    • They work with their hands performing procedures, maintain vigilance during patient monitoring and advocate for patient safety

    • They are strong communicators, leaders during crisis management and remain calm under pressure

    • They build rapport quickly with patients during challenging life moments and often see immediate results from their actions

  • Are there things students should be doing in Phase 1 (year 1 and 2) to prepare?

    Anesthesiology is becoming increasingly competitive, so performing well on exams to establish a strong knowledge base and foundation will be important to set up for success in Step 2 and clinical rotations. Getting involved with the Anesthesia SIG early on and seeking out research opportunities or abstracts can be helpful, but many programs are understanding if students pursue other specialties before deciding upon anesthesiology. Historically there have not been strong research expectations, but that is subject to change.

  • What electives are recommended for students pursuing anesthesia?

    It is highly recommended to take Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine, which is the primary fourth year elective for students interested in pursuing anesthesiology to meet residents and faculty in the department. The Department of Anesthesia offers several other electives that help students gain exposure to anesthesiology subspecialties and work with academic attendings for letters of recommendation. Other anesthesiology electives outside the Indianapolis or regional campus sites often work more closely with attendings and may offer more hands-on procedural opportunities.

    There are many additional electives that support a career in anesthesiology, especially:

    • critical care
    • emergency medicine
    • medicine and surgical subspecialties

    Anesthesiology subspecialties include:

    • critical care
    • chronic pain
    • cardiac anesthesiology
    • pediatric anesthesiology
    • OB
    • anesthesiology
    • neurasthenia
    • regional and acute pain medicine

  • What sub-Is are recommended for students pursuing anesthesia?

    Internal medicine or surgery sub-Is are recommended. 

  • Is an away rotation recommended for anesthesia?

    Participating in away rotations can greatly enhance your chances of securing residency program interviews, especially if you have preferences beyond the Midwest. Letters of recommendation from away rotations highlight your strengths in various clinical settings, showcasing your adaptability and versatility.

  • How important is research? Does it have to be specific to anesthesia?

    In anesthesia, research is not heavily emphasized and does not need to be specialty-specific. However, it can certainly be beneficial if it is related to anesthesiology.

  • How long is anesthesia residency training?

    There are four total years of anesthesiology residency training. Anesthesiology residencies are either categorical or advanced.

    Categorical residencies include all four years, PGY1 to PGY4.

    Advanced residencies include three years, PGY2 to PGY4 (also known as clinical anesthesia CA1 to CA3), so students will have to match in a separate clinical base year or PGY1 intern year in preliminary surgery, preliminary medicine or a transitional year.

  • Are there any anesthesia specific recommendations regarding letters of recommendation?

    Any letters obtained from medicine, surgery, critical care or emergency medicine are all great to have in your portfolio. It is recommended to make well-rounded applications with two anesthesia letters.

  • What are some useful resources for students considering anesthesia?
  • How does career mentoring at IU School of Medicine work in anesthesia?

    Anesthesiology career mentors are assigned to MS3s and MS4s. Students are paired with faculty members and are expected to introduce themselves and ask questions of their mentors. Information is often disseminated through the Anesthesia Student Interest Group.