Physician Anesthesiologists Are Irreplaceable

Physician anesthesiologists are guardians of patient safety, uniquely educated and trained for the critical moments in health care — in the operating room, in the delivery room, in the intensive care unit, and in a crisis. No other type of practitioner can match their ability to navigate life-and-death moments in patient care. Physician anesthesiologists are made for these moments.

Providing Unmatched Expertise

As medical doctors, physician anesthesiologists specialize in anesthesia care, pain management, and critical care medicine, bringing the knowledge required to treat the entire body. Their education and training includes:

  • 12 to 14 years of postsecondary education, including medical school
  • 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training
  • At least four months of concentrated work in intensive care units
  • Training to develop expertise in a subspecialty, such as pediatric surgery, labor and delivery, pain management, critical care, neurosurgery, or cardiac surgery

We are physicians first and then anesthesiologists. Giving anesthetics and placing a breathing tube is only a small part of our everyday job.

Dr. Bhoumesh Patel, Physician Anesthesiologist, Texas Heart Institute

Saving Lives in Surgery

Physician anesthesiologists’ expertise in preventing patient complications and responding to emergencies in surgery can mean the difference between life and death. As leaders of the Anesthesia Care Team, physician anesthesiologists ensure the highest-quality patient care and best patient outcomes. Who would you want protecting your life in surgery?

The presence of a physician anesthesiologist in surgery prevented 6.9 excess deaths per 1,000 cases in which an anesthesia-related or surgical complication occurred.

Independent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Anesthesiology®

Giving Patients the Quality of Care They Want and Need

According to an independent survey conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland for the American Society of Anesthesiologists:

  • 9 in 10 patients want a physician anesthesiologist by their side to keep them safe in surgery.
  • 9 in 10 surgeons believe physician anesthesiologists are the best-qualified to respond to complications and emergencies in the operating room.

Demonstrating Leadership in a Crisis

As a pandemic hit the United States in 2020, physician anesthesiologists quickly pivoted to treating the most critically ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care units. They were uniquely prepared for the moment, with education, training, and expertise in pulmonary physiology, critical care medicine, ventilation strategies, resuscitation, intubation, and pain management. Many voluntarily traveled to hard-hit areas of the country to lend their expertise, even though procedures like intubation put them within inches of a patient’s mouth and at very high risk for infection.

The Expertise of Physician Anesthesiologists on Display

“You’re basically right next to the nuclear reactor.”
The Washington Post — April 5, 2020

“Long Island anesthesiologist turned coronavirus first responder in the pandemic’s epicenter describes patients’ heartbreaking fear as one asked: ‘Am I going to die?'”
Daily Mail — May 28, 2020

Physician anesthesiologist gives child with cancer a second chance at life
Made for This Moment Stories

Physician anesthesiologist advocates for patient and saves her life
Made for This Moment Stories

Hear more firsthand accounts of the difference that physician anesthesiologists make for patients.


Policymaker Brochure
Learn why no other type of health care practitioner can match a physician anesthesiologist’s ability to navigate life-and-death moments in patient care. Read firsthand accounts of how they ensure patient safety.

Education and Training Infographic
See how a physician anesthesiologist’s unique education and training prepares them for the critical moments in health care.

Research Summary
Read more research that highlights the importance of physician-led anesthesia care, how it ensures patient safety and how its elimination does not improve access to care or save medical costs.