For years I’ve extolled the intellectual and emotional virtues of a career in anesthesiology.

This week U.S. News and World Report credited anesthesiologist with another honor: the highest paying job in their 2018 Best Paying Jobs survey. Regarding the #1 job, physician anesthesiologist, the article states, “the breadth of the profession has dramatically expanded in the last decade. Anesthesiologists still work in hospital operating rooms, but their expertise is also needed in other places, including invasive radiology, gastrointestinal endoscopy, electrophysiology and more. In fact, the profession is expected to grow by 18 percent through 2026, with 5,900 new jobs.” The median salary for a physician anesthesiologist was listed as $208,000, and the unemployment rate as 0.5%.

The article also states, “The journey to becoming an anesthesiologist is a long one. After obtaining an undergraduate degree, hopefuls need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and attend medical school. After graduation, they will then have to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to undergo a one-year internship followed by a three-year residency in anesthesiology. Most anesthesiology residents go on to do a one- to two-year fellowship program to learn a subspecialty, such as critical care or obstetric anesthesia. After completing residency and taking an exam, anesthesiologists may also receive their board certification through the American Board of Anesthesiology. It’s not required, but it does demonstrate advanced skill and knowledge and many help with getting more professional opportunities or a higher salary. However, all anesthesiologists have to obtain state licensure, the requirements for which vary by state. By the time an anesthesiologist is through residency and a fellowship, he or she will have completed anywhere from 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.”

The job of a certified nurse anesthetist was listed as #11 on the Best Paying Jobs list. The article states, “health care reform and the aging baby boom population are precipitating the demand for more health care providers. And indeed, the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) predicts that the profession is poised to grow by about 16 percent by the year 2026, which translates into 6,700 new job openings.” The median salary of nurse anesthetists was listed as $160,270, and the unemployment rate as 2.7%.

Careers in anesthesia are intellectually stimulating, emotionally gratifying, and have high median salaries and ultra-low unemployment. Expect the demand for acceptance into physician anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist training programs to remain high. I see both careers to remaining attractive and secure for the foreseeable future.


Published in September 2017:  The second edition of THE DOCTOR AND MR. DYLAN, Dr. Novak’s debut novel, a medical-legal mystery which blends the science and practice of anesthesiology with unforgettable characters, a page-turning plot, and the legacy of Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan.


In this debut thriller, tragedies strike an anesthesiologist as he tries to start a new life with his son.

Dr. Nico Antone, an anesthesiologist at Stanford University, is married to Alexandra, a high-powered real estate agent obsessed with money. Their son, Johnny, an 11th-grader with immense potential, struggles to get the grades he’ll need to attend an Ivy League college. After a screaming match with Alexandra, Nico moves himself and Johnny from Palo Alto, California, to his frozen childhood home of Hibbing, Minnesota. The move should help Johnny improve his grades and thus seem more attractive to universities, but Nico loves the freedom from his wife, too. Hibbing also happens to be the hometown of music icon Bob Dylan. Joining the hospital staff, Nico runs afoul of a grouchy nurse anesthetist calling himself Bobby Dylan, who plays Dylan songs twice a week in a bar called Heaven’s Door. As Nico and Johnny settle in, their lives turn around; they even start dating the gorgeous mother/daughter pair of Lena and Echo Johnson. However, when Johnny accidentally impregnates Echo, the lives of the Hibbing transplants start to implode. In true page-turner fashion, first-time novelist Novak gets started by killing soulless Alexandra, which accelerates the downfall of his underdog protagonist now accused of murder. Dialogue is pitch-perfect, and the insults hurled between Nico and his wife are as hilarious as they are hurtful: “Are you my husband, Nico? Or my dependent?” The author’s medical expertise proves central to the plot, and there are a few grisly moments, as when “dark blood percolated” from a patient’s nostrils “like coffee grounds.” Bob Dylan details add quirkiness to what might otherwise be a chilly revenge tale; we’re told, for instance, that Dylan taught “every singer with a less-than-perfect voice…how to sneer and twist off syllables.” Courtroom scenes toward the end crackle with energy, though one scene involving a snowmobile ties up a certain plot thread too neatly. By the end, Nico has rolled with a great many punches.

Nuanced characterization and crafty details help this debut soar.

Click on the image below to reach the Amazon link to The Doctor and Mr. Dylan:











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