1. Please introduce yourself (name, age, Canadian undergrad/masters, medical school, graduate year, residency program and year, AOA or ACGME, and state).
Greetings current/future osteopathic students! I grew up in Vancouver, BC and completed by undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University. I spent some time away from formal academic programs and returned to medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine from 2010 to 2014. After completing medical school, I matched into the Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine program at the University of Washington in Seattle. This is an ACGME program. Of note, I entered medical school on a student visa (F1) and later became a US Permanent Resident through marriage; my wife is also in the medical field.
2. Why anesthesiology?
I was captivated with multiple specialties during medical school; however, I discovered that I was very comfortable in the OR setting and loved that as an anesthesiologist you can actually find work outside of the OR if you choose to do so (Pain Medicine, Critical Care Medicine). Also, I enjoyed the challenge of developing procedural capabilities under pressure.
3. What is a typical day like as an anesthesiology resident?
The days are actually quite variable; this is something that I did not anticipate until becoming a resident. I arrive at the hospital for OR days between 530am and 615am depending on the complexity of the case, amount of OR room set-up required, and lecture requirements. The pace of the day is largely influenced by the number of cases you are assigned to (2 vs 5, for example). My day finishes up between 5-7pm on average and I am left with the rest of the evening to research the medical histories of my patient's for the following day; this will include contacting the attending physician to discuss the anesthetic plans.
4. For 3rd and 4th years interested in anesthesiology, what rotations do you recommend? Should a medical student be able to intubate before residency? Is getting a single month of anesthesiology enough?
I recommend 2 sub-interships in clinical anesthesiology. This serves 2 purposes. Firstly, it will allow the medical student to compare their experiences from two different institutions. Secondly, it allows for 8 continuous weeks (ideal) of development of clincial skills and study of relevent pharmacology/physiology. With regards to "being able to intubate," this skill is something that most people can develop over time. I have had many attending's tell me that they are more concerned with a resident's ability to make sound clinical decisions versus intubating on their first attempt early in training. Theme: developing procedural skills is important, but understanding and implementing an anesthetic plan is critical. Additionally, I recommend a month in the MICU if student's can squeeze this into their schedule.
5. I know this is not an anesthesiology specific concern, but how do you view the future of anesthesiology, esp with the emergence of nurse anesthesiology and assistents? Do you think this will affect your ability to practice, reimbursements, etc...?
CRNA's have been in practice for quite a while and, at our institution, we co-exist extremely well. Some of my CRNA colleagues are more involved with pushing for independent practice, while others I have met have no desire to practice independently. This is an interesting scenario. Overall, regardless if things change for the MD/DO anesthesiologist, I chose the field because I enjoy it (regardless of salary). The future is very difficult to predict.
6. You have been accepted to one of the best anesthesiology residency programs in the country, have you experienced any bias or negativity throughout your medical career because you were DO? Any advice you can provide Canadian premeds who have concerns about entering or even applying to an Osteopathic medical program?
I have a few very strong feelings regarding this question. Firstly, I have had very little, if any, negativity directed towards my status as a DO resident. There are definitely programs that will not interview you because of your DO credentials, but they are very few. From discussions with other residents, this seems to be more prominent in the competitive surgical specialities. Here, at UW, I have had zero problems. Secondly, I was very informed about what residency/practice would be like as a DO before I applied. I encourage applicants to make a thorough analysis by speaking directly with residents/attendings. If your goal is to make it back to Canada to practice, it is important to understand that it can be done, but will definitely prove more challenging.
7. Any advice you can provide students who will be going through the match this year?
The best advice I received is the following: Residency is tough enough, pick a place (aka rank high) where you will have support (family/friends) unless a specific program has exactly what you are looking for and this requires you to be isolated.
8. What do you think is the 1 or 2 qualities that help students get the residency spot they want? Is it all about Step I scores?
I think that applicants can often be misled into thinking that board scores are not critical. Unfortunately, most programs will weigh your board scores heavily (whether for ranking or selecting for interview). Work ethic is a quality that I am always impressed by when working with medical students; this should shine through on your sub-internship.
9. Are you planning on going back to Canada to practice anesthesiology or are you set for the USA?
Very difficult to make that prediction at this time. As with most people, there are a lot of personal considerations. That being said, I plan on doing everything academically to keep that door open. Currently, I am very content working in the United States and plan on applying for work here after residency.
10. Last question (and most important), will the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs after all these management changes but no player additions?
I grew up in Vancouver and have a lot of friends from Toronto, but I do not follow the Leafs!
Interviewed by Sevan Evren
Dr. G. Bening, PGY-2
Anesthesia & Pain Medicine