Anesthesiology residency, while not one of the most competitive residencies, is still quite tricky to match into. It’s also one of the “lifestyle” specialties, meaning the compensation is quite high and the work-life balance is a little better compared to other demanding specialties, like neurosurgery residency. As a specialty, anesthesiology is a good choice for those who are drawn to it. In this blog, we’ll explore what anesthesiologists do, what your chances of matching are, what subspecialties you can pursue and how to increase your shot of matching into anesthesiology residency!

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List of Anesthesiology Residencies in US List of Anesthesiology Residencies in Canada What is Anesthesiology Residency? Anesthesiology Residency: Structure Anesthesiology Residency: Fellowships Anesthesiology Residency Match Rates Matching to Anesthesiology Residency Programs How to Match Anesthesiology Residency Programs FAQs

List of Anesthesiology Residencies in US

Here’s a list of some of the best anesthesiology residencies in the US and most popular choices for residents, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

  • University of Alabama Medical Center Program
  •  Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science (Phoenix) Program
  •  University of Miami/Jackson Health System Program
  •  University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine Program
  •  University of Florida Program
  •  Yale-New Haven Medical Center Program
  •  University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson Program
  •  UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine/UCLA Medical Center Program
  •  Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Program
  •  Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Program

List of Anesthesiology Residencies in Canada

Here is a list of the medical schools in Canada which have an anesthesiology residency program attached:

  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Dalhousie University
  • Université Laval
  • Université de Sherbrooke
  • Université de Montréal
  • McGill University
  • University of Ottawa
  • Queen’s University
  • NOSM University
  • University of Toronto
  • McMaster University
  • Western University
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Calgary
  • University of British Columbia

What is Anesthesiology Residency?

Anesthesiology residency trains medical school graduates in the care of patients before, during and after surgical procedures, as well as managing patients’ pain and comfort. Most often, anesthesiologists are found in the operating room as part of a surgical team, making sure the patient gets through the procedure safely and comfortably and keeping watch on their vitals. During surgical operations, anesthesiologists are essentially the patient’s “guardian angel”.

Outside of the OR, anesthesiologists may also help patients in critical care with pain management, take on teaching roles in medical schools or hospitals, and pursue research to further our understanding of anesthesiology.

Anesthesiology is one of the ROAD specialties (Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology and Dermatology), or “lifestyle” specialties, for its more manageable schedule once you’ve graduated and entered into practice, and its high compensation, as anesthesiologists are some of the highest paid doctors. This also factors in making anesthesiology a pretty competitive residency to match into. On the other side of things, though, anesthesia is known for having one of the toughest and most stressful residencies, so there’s always a trade off!

While anesthesiology generally has a better work-life balance, your day-to-day experiences as an anesthesiologist can vary depending on the work environment you’re in and whether you’re working with inpatient or outpatient procedures, OR vs. non-OR and so on.

Anesthesiology can be fairly routine and highly technical, but it can offer moments of unpredictability in emergent situations. It is a field that could be calm and normal 90% of the time, while throwing you a high-pressure curveball the other 10% without warning. Anesthesiology also doesn’t give you the face-time with patients that primary care specialties do, so if you enjoy interacting with patients and fostering strong relationships with them, anesthesiology won’t give you many opportunities for that.

As an anesthesiologist, you still need to be able to cultivate great interpersonal skills with your peers, since you’ll be collaborating most often with surgeons, operating room staff, emergency room staff and a host of other medical professionals in other specialties. If you enjoy working as part of a team and want to work regular 9-5 hours while putting your technical skills to the test, anesthesiology is a great choice.

Anesthesiology Residency: Structure

Anesthesiology residency comes with two options for med school grads: categorical and advanced residency positions. In categorical programs, you’ll complete 4 years of anesthesiology specialty training all with the same program. For advanced programs, you’ll first complete a transitional year residency, or intern year, before moving into your core anesthesiology training in your post-graduate year 2 (PGY2).

Your transitional year will either be focused in medicine or surgery, preparing you to begin your anesthesiology training in your second year. In your final 2 years of residency, you may also have an opportunity to apply for a chief resident position, or be required to take on the role for some of your time as a senior resident.

No matter which type of program you match into, your anesthesiology residency will typically be 4 years long.

Here are the easiest and hardest residencies to match to!

Anesthesiology Residency: Fellowships and Subspecialties

While anesthesiology residency might seem quite straightforward and routine, there are a number of subspecializations you can pursue through a medical fellowship, which is usually another year or two of training.

Here are the primary subspecialties of anesthesiology you can explore:

  • Critical Care Medicine
  • Pain Medicine
  • Pediatric Anesthesiology
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Neurology
  • Obstetrics
  • Neuroanesthesia
  • Regional anesthesia
  • Obstetric anesthesiology
  • Hospice and palliative medicine
  • Surgery
  • Neurointensive care
  • Cardiothoracic anesthesiology
  • Pediatric cardiac Anesthesiology
  • Neurosurgical anesthesia

Anesthesiology Residency Match Rates

According to the latest match data from the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), anesthesiology residency continues to be a fairly competitive specialty, with MD seniors having a higher chance of matching.

In the most recent match, MD seniors had a match rate into anesthesiology residency of 68.8%, with a fill rate of 74.5%. DO seniors had a match rate into anesthesiology of 48.3%, and a fill rate of 15.2%. A total of 127 international medical graduates (IMGs) matched into the specialty.

MD Match Rate in Anesthesiology

DO Match Rate in Anesthesiology

Match rates in transitional anesthesiology programs and advanced anesthesiology programs were also quite competitive to match, with generally low numbers all around. Emergency Medicine-Anesthesiology only offered 1 position in the last match, and this went unfilled.

Anesthesiology was among the top 5 specialties for both MD seniors and MD graduates, and it even made the top 5 for DO graduate applicants with 43 matches in the specialty. If you’re interested in anesthesiology and plan to apply to DO schools, check out the DO schools with the best match rates to increase your chances.

Match numbers for both US and Non-US IMGs were quite low in anesthesiology residency programs overall, making it a less IMG-friendly residency program.

Matching to Anesthesiology Residency Programs

To apply for anesthesiology residency programs, you need to first register for the Main Residency Match in both the US and Canada. For US applicants, this involves registering for the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) Main Match and creating an ERAS application through the online service. For Canadians, register for the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) R-1 Match and submit an application through the same service.

Note that IMGs for anesthesiology residency programs in either country need to first become certified through the ECFMG pathways.

How to Match Anesthesiology Residency Programs

Matching to your ideal residency program can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Taking the time to craft a stellar application, thoroughly research different programs and put your best foot forward goes a long way. Here are a few tips on how to match to an anesthesiology residency!

#1 Get strong test scores

Scoring well on both your USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK is a must when matching to anesthesiology. Your test scores and clinical skills are one of the first things a program will look at, and if your scores are not in the 230 and above range, you might be rejected before they even get to the test of your application. Having a solid study plan and preparing yourself in your final years of med school is a good start, though you can also get some help from a USMLE Step 1 prep course or USMLE Step 2 CK prep course, too.

If you’re a DO applicant, you’ll be taking the COMLEX Level 1 and COMLEX Level 2 PE, but there are also COMLEX prep courses out there to help you score well on these exams and make an impression when trying to match anesthesiology.

#2 Ensure positive performance reviews

Positive reviews of your clinical ability are also a requirement to match into anesthesiology. This means achieving good scores across your medical school clinical rotations, securing glowing letters of recommendation from your instructors and supervisors, and a solid MSPE. If possible, secure at least one letter of recommendation from an anesthesiologist that you’ve worked with and who you’ve fostered a good relationship with. Perhaps you were under the supervision of an anesthesiologist during your clinical clerkships, an externship or away rotation. Whatever the case, be sure they’ve had the chance to witness your clinical ability and can provide a solid, strong recommendation for you.

#3 Write a stellar ERAS/CaRMS application

Really, every part of your ERAS or CaRMS application needs to be stellar. This means your anesthesiology personal statement, recommendations, MSPE, grades, test scores and all supplemental materials need to highlight why you are a good fit for anesthesiology and why you’ve chosen the specialty.

It’s also worth taking the time to review your application for errors, spelling mistakes or weaknesses, as simple mistakes like this are easy to make but can really tank your chances. Consider looking into an ERAS application review service or asking a residency application consultant to review your application before you submit!

#4 Apply strategically and research programs

When deciding how many residency programs to apply to, it’s tempting to narrow your list down to your top choices. But anesthesiology can be more competitive, so it’s better to increase the number of programs you apply to and increase your odds of matching.

You should also thoroughly research the programs available and decide which ones are most likely to rank you and accept you based on what they’re looking for, what they value and what you can bring to a program. Prepare yourself for the common anesthesiology residency interview questions and practice your answers ahead of time. The goal here is to use your knowledge of the programs to show how you are the best fit for them and that you will be a successful resident.

#5 Take a gap year and gain experience

If you’re worried about gaps in your application or want to take a little more time to increase your chances of successfully matching, you can take a gap year before residency. This might be especially helpful for IMGs, as it gives you the chance to gain some clinical experience in the US or Canada, which significantly helps your chances of matching a more competitive specialty like anesthesiology. It also gives you some time to get certified by the ECFMG and gather any application materials you need.

#6 Ace your CASPer test

Many anesthesiology residency programs are among those residency programs that require CASPer. Anesthesiologists need to have those interpersonal and “people skills” that CASPer claims to measure in test-takers. If you already took CASPer for your medical school application, give yourself a refresher on how the CASPer test is scored and how it works. If you’re not familiar with the test, check out some CASPer prep tips and give yourself enough time to prepare!


1. What is anesthesiology residency?

Anesthesiologists assist in the operating room as part of a surgical care team. They ensure the patient is fully sedated for the length of the surgical procedure, monitor their vitals and assist with their breathing during surgery. Anesthesiologists also assist patients with pain management for chronic conditions. Anesthesiology residency involves 4 years of training in various rotations related to anesthesiology.

2. How long is anesthesiology residency?

Anesthesiology residency involves 4 years of specialty training. Some residencies are categorical, meaning you’ll complete all 4 years at the same program. Others are advanced positions, where you’ll first complete a transitional or intern year in medicine or surgery before beginning your anesthesiology training in your PGY2 year.

3. How stressful is anesthesiology residency?

Anesthesiology is known to be a stressful residency, despite being one of the “lifestyle” specialties and having more regular working hours. Like any residency, it can be quite demanding and sometimes stressful, but it can be managed. As an anesthesiologist you are responsible for the lives and safety of your patients, and you’ll often be in high-risk scenarios where things usually go right, but can sometimes go wrong. If you’re not confident in high-stress situations, anesthesiology might be a challenge for you.

4. Is anesthesiology residency IMG friendly?

Generally, anesthesiology is not the most IMG friendly residency. Not all programs will consider IMGs, and those that do may not admit a large number of international applicants. However, IMGs can have a higher chance of matching to the specialty with an excellent application and stellar interview performance.

5. Is anesthesiology a “lifestyle” specialty?

Anesthesiology is considered one of the ROAD specialties for its better work-life balance, less demanding hours and high pay remuneration. You can expect to work fairly regular hours and you won’t be expected to be on-call. However, your work environment will not always be stress-free since anesthesiologists are sometimes called in during emergent and unexpected situations to manage a patient’s care.

6. How much does anesthesiologists make?

Anesthesiologists are among the highest paid doctors, making between $300,000-$400,000 per year.

7. How do I match to anesthesiology residency?

Matching to anesthesiology residency means you’ll need a combination of high test scores, a polished application and good interviews with your top choice programs. You may also need to fulfill other requirements such as the CASPer test. While not the most competitive field, anesthesiology is not the easiest to match to, and crafting a good application takes time and patience. 

8. What anesthesiology subspecialties are there?

Anesthesiologists typically work in operating rooms as part of a surgical care team, or they may choose to work with patients in critical care wards. But there are other subspecialties you can pursue as an anesthesiologist. Here are a few:

  • Pediatric Anesthesiology
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Neurology
  • Obstetrics
  • Neuroanesthesia
  • Regional anesthesia
  • Obstetric anesthesiology
  • Hospice and palliative medicine
  • Neurointensive care
  • Cardiothoracic anesthesiology
  • Pediatric cardiac Anesthesiology

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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