Anesthesiologists are medical doctors that specialize in administering pain relieving medications to patients especially during surgery. The training period required for becoming an anesthesiologist lasts 12 years, which includes four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school and a four-year anesthesiology residency program. Unlike attending anesthesiologists, anesthesiology residents don’t have six-figure salaries. This makes it important to understand how paying back student loans works during residency and what options exist for earning extra money.
Medical school graduates that want to become an anesthesiologist must complete a four-year anesthesiology residency program after medical school. Anesthesiologists are paid approximately $50,000 during their residency training period. For example, anesthesiology residents at the Ohio State Medical Center are paid $46,575 during their first year, $48,120 their second year, $49,695 their third year and $51,546 their fourth year. In addition, most anesthesiology residency programs provide their residents with two to three weeks of paid vacation, sick days and days off to attend conferences related to anesthesiology.
Moonlighting is defined as practicing medicine outside of the hours required for an individual’s residency training program, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. These extra shifts help cover living expenses and student loan payments. Most residency programs require residents to ask for permission from their program director before they start moonlighting. In addition, if a resident’s clinical or academic performance drops because of working an extra shift his moonlighting privileges may be revoked.
Aspiring anesthesiologists have to start paying back their student loans when they graduate from medical school and begin an anesthesiology residency program. The median medical school debt held by the medical school graduating class of 2010 was $150,000, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. Having that much debt would usually result in monthly payments of approximately $1,800 under a 10 year repayment plan, but a federal student loan repayment program called income based repayment makes it easier for residents to make student loan payments during residency. A first year anesthesiology resident would to need to pay approximately $380 under income based repayment instead of $1,800.
The median salary for anesthesiologists who work in an academic setting is $300,000 as of June 2011, according to the Washington State University in St. Louis School of Medicine. The median salary for anesthesiologists who work in a clinical setting or private practice is $330,000. The average anesthesiologist works approximately 58.7 hours each week.