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Anesthesiology and Pain Management

About the Specialty

Anesthesiology is a broad field that generally refers to the perioperative care of patients undergoing surgery. Anesthesiologists can be considered the “internal medicine doctors of the operating room.” Our specialty combines the cerebral aspects of internal medicine with the technical skills of a proceduralist in a dynamic and constantly changing physiologic/pharmacologic state.

Anesthesiologists care for the broad spectrum of age, disability, health, and cases, and are often seen as the leaders of crises or urgent and emergent situations across a hospital system.

Answers to Common Questions

  • Attributes of a Competitive Student

    What factors typically make a student competitive for this specialty?

    Well-rounded individual with the following:

    • Competitive board scores and performance in medical school
    • Participation in research with abstract presentation or manuscript publication (not necessary but noticeable)
    • Demonstration of resilience or grit and professionalism (either through letters of recommendation, personal statements, or commitment to extracurricular activities over time).
  • Research

    How important is research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

    We like to see some extracurricular, scholarly work. It shows an ability to critically think through a project, learn about and research a topic, and discuss or present it. It mustn’t be in the specialty but better if it is.

  • Shadowing

    How can students identify opportunities for shadowing?

    Contact Dr. Amy Woods,, or Dr. Aditee Ambardekar,

  • Electives

    What electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?

    4101 (requirement to do any selectives within Anesthesiology) and/or any of our exploratory rotations in anesthesiology and pain management

    Based on your experience, what tips do you have for students to shine on your electives?

    Anesthesiology is more cerebral than most students and other physicians think. While we have a set of technical skills that are vital and critical to our clinical practice, our field is indeed a thinking field. As such, students should be engaged and observant enough to identify the different choices, medications, maneuvers, and decisions and have the curiosity to ask “why?” Students should understand when it is OK to talk and ask questions in the operating room and when it’s best to quietly observe and take in the events; this is called situational awareness. Students should anticipate what may be needed (another bag of IV fluids, bed to be brought in from the outside the OR, etc.) and be willing to be an active team member. Finally, a medical student should be willing to listen to direction or redirection and ask for and receive feedback.

  • Away Rotations

    Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?

    It isn’t mandatory or necessary. The experiences provided at UT Southwestern showcase the breadth and depth of our specialty. Away rotations are only necessary for special situations, which can be discussed on an individual basis.

    If your specialty recommends doing away rotations, how many “aways” do you recommend?

    It’s not necessary.

    If away rotations are necessary, when should they apply and when should they be completed?

    If interested in visiting another department, most departments use the national visiting student application process which opens April 1.

  • Interview Timing

    Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?

    Interviews span from October through January.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    How many letters of recommendation are needed to apply to your specialty?

    Three letters of recommendation are needed with 1-2 from an anesthesiologist.

    Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?


    If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?

    Yes – any faculty member who has had the opportunity to observe you and speak to your professionalism, character, and resilience. Surgery, medicine, peds, or research mentor.

    Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?


    Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?



View Advisers for Other Specialties



Amy Woods, M.D.

Course Director of Medical Student Education

Brian Frasure

Senior Medical Student Coordinator