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Posted on
April 4, 2023

Anesthesiologists: Fill the Late Career Gap Without Burning Out

The need for Anesthesia providers in the United States is rising. According to CareerExplorer, there are about 33,000 Anesthesiologists currently working in the United States. From 2016 to 2026, anesthesiologist jobs will grow by more than 15%.

Are you an anesthesiologist late in your career or nearing retirement? A heavy caseload may have you feeling burned out and looking for a way out. But, instead of opting for early retirement, another option would be to take on a lighter schedule or explore locum tenens assignments.

A recent cross-sectional survey published in the May 2021 issue of Anesthesiology reported on burnout risk factors affecting Anesthesiologists in the U.S. Among members of the American Society of Anesthesiologists that completed the survey, almost 60% were at high risk of burnout.

And nearly 14% of them met the criteria for burnout syndrome. These risk factors include emotional exhaustion, declining health, decreased patient satisfaction, deteriorating quality of life, and increased medical errors.

With the demand for Anesthesiologists increasing, there are plentiful opportunities for anesthesiologist providers and CRNAs. However, there are other ways to fill the growing demand for trained professionals without spreading yourself too thin. Evaluating burnout causes and solutions is an important part of addressing this problem. Ultimately, the goal is to place anesthesiologists in fulfilling roles that will not seriously affect their mental health and personal lives so that they can provide the highest quality care possible.

The Basics of Burnout

Before exploring options for Anesthesiologists who may be experiencing emotional exhaustion or mental health problems, it helps to understand the basics of physician burnout syndrome. Burnout syndrome happens when work-related stress goes unmanaged and begins to manifest as extreme exhaustion, perceived lack of care for work, and other contributing factors. The American Thoracic Society defines burnout syndrome in three general categories:

  • Exhaustion - Exhaustion can happen to Anesthesiologists and other healthcare professionals reaching threshold levels for the care they can provide. Both physical and emotional exhaustion is common among healthcare professionals experiencing burnout. For example, a provider may feel exhausted after caring for an extremely sick patient for an extended time without the proper work/life balance.
  • Depersonalization - Depersonalization is defined as an indifferent or distant attitude toward work. Healthcare providers experiencing depersonalization as part of burnout syndrome may act negatively or coldly toward fellow employees or seem distant and impersonal to patients. This perceived lack of care signifies that a provider is faced with emotional exhaustion and personal factors that make it difficult to perform job duties with a positive attitude.
  • Reduction in Personal Accomplishment - The final defining trait of burnout syndrome is a lack of self-esteem and pride in one's work. Healthcare providers experiencing this symptom no longer feel extremely satisfied with their work and instead feel a general unease and disappointment regarding their performance. Other signs of this symptom include anxiety, depression, and anger.

These are general guidelines for burnout syndrome, so keep in mind that Anesthesiologists and other providers may experience these symptoms differently. The manifestation of burnout depends on various personal factors, independent risk factors, work/life balance, and more. All cases of burnout syndrome should be taken seriously so healthcare providers can get the help they need to find a proper life balance and provide quality care once again.

Anesthesiologists locum tenens

The projected shortage of Anesthesiologists due to burnout syndrome and other factors will impact facilities nationwide. This means current providers should have no problem finding the exact job, schedule, and pay they desire. One option for changing your current schedule is looking into anesthesiologist locum tenens services. These flexible assignments offer income to meet your needs and ongoing professional development opportunities.

Working with a locum tenens agency can help you find temporary to part-time jobs without worrying about anesthesiologist burnout and reaching threshold levels for the care you can provide. Look for an agency that will assign you a recruiter to assist with nationwide placement. A competent professional agency will manage all the logistics, including travel, lodging, and any necessary scheduling changes.

A locum agency advocates for you and gives you access to a dedicated Anesthesia team. These specialists know how to dig deep and ask the right questions to get the necessary answers. The agency will take time to listen to your goals and career needs, and only find positions that move you forward.

Benefits of Locum Tenens

If you're considering locum tenens work for anesthesia professionals, here are some key benefits of this type of work:

  • Flexibility - Under the locum tenens model, healthcare providers move around to temporary positions to fill gaps in the workforce. This can help anesthesia professionals avoid emotional exhaustion and other symptoms of burnout syndrome, as they can explore new opportunities and workplaces within the physician anesthesiologist job market.
  • Guidance - Anesthesia professionals who work with a locum agency will have ongoing guidance as they navigate new assignments. Locum tenens agencies help with travel, job placement, lodging, and more. This helps relieve the stress that anesthesia professionals may feel as they travel around the United States to find fulfilling work.
  • Career Development - Because there are so many opportunities available under the locum model, Anesthesiologists can explore different facets of their field to find positions that leave them extremely satisfied. This model allows these medical professionals to drive their own career development in the right direction. Whether you want to work as a pediatric anesthetic professional, nurse anesthetist, private practice anesthetist, or pursue an opportunity before retirement, there are many paths you can take.
  • Personal Development - Traveling around the country for locum work can be personally fulfilling as you explore new areas and cultures. For healthcare providers, it's important to cultivate hobbies and spend time away from work to destress. Locum tenens work can be a great opportunity for this, as anesthesiologist professionals can see new regions and discover new personal interests.

If you decide locum tenens work is right for you, the next step is to connect with a locum tenens agency that can help you find the right role. Locum agencies are qualified to help healthcare professionals find work and receive ongoing support throughout the process. Because locum tenens work can involve travel and changing assignments, having an agency to help guide you through the process can be an enormous advantage.

Additional Opportunities for Anesthesia providers

With retirement looming, locum tenens is a great way to fill the gap late in your career without burning out. But here are a few other possibilities you may want to consider:

Anesthesiologist mentorship programs

Participating in a mentorship program lets you share your many years of experience while giving back to the Anesthesiology community. Mentorship is an integral part of career development and ongoing training for recent graduates, junior Anesthesiologists, and emerging physicians. These programs are a win-win for both the mentor and the mentee helping to facilitate future growth and enhance educational performance.

Training those in underserved countries

Volunteering to educate the next generation of Anesthesiologists in underserved countries is one way to make an impact. These global educational programs let you travel to developing areas such as Africa or South America. Overseas training lets you help train and educate Anesthesiologist Providers in either a classroom or clinical residency program.

Anesthesiologist expert witness

Another option for late-career providers is to serve as an Anesthesiology expert witness offering litigation support at trials and depositions. One scenario is working with attorneys, reviewing patient charts, and sharing your opinion on if the proper standard of care was followed. If you find this opportunity interesting, a few online search terms include "medical review," "consultants directory," or "expert witness directory."

Contributing to policy and legislation discussions

Have you ever thought about how you can shape the future of Anesthesiology procedures and patient care? Contributing to legislation discussions at the state level is one way to influence Anesthesiology healthcare policy making. You could also join special committees or serve on the board of directors at your local healthcare facility.

Sharing your expertise

You can become a thought leader and share your knowledge as an Anesthesiologist expert with healthcare providers and recent graduates. Presenting at trade shows, acting as a featured podcast guest, or writing articles for industry publications are few options. For example, the American Society of Anesthesiologists is always looking for guest bloggers to contribute to their ASA Community blog or join in on the discussions in the ASA Community forum.

Anesthesiology job opportunities

Reach out to Caliber when you are looking for your next career opportunity or help to fill the late-career gap. We specialize in locum tenens positions for CRNAs and Anesthesiologist Providers.



We stay current with industry trends and find up-to-date locum tenens job opportunities in the areas we serve. When you work with Caliber, one of our dedicated consultants will help you land the perfect opportunity in the clinical setting of your choice.

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