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Benjamin French, MD — Alumnus, Class of 2021

Ben French, MD

I entered the couples match with my fiancé (applying into OBGYN) at the end of medical school after completing a year where we both gave all our savings to Delta in our hunt for the perfect residency. I was scared of ending up somewhere that would not expose me to every type of practice an anesthesiologist can have. I also wanted to go somewhere that had a significant number of CRNAs to help ensure that my time in residency was a mix of service and education rather than service alone. In short, I wanted a program that would make those four years as valuable as they could be. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is that program.

The breadth of clinical exposure here truly cannot be beat. Many programs told me that during interviews, so I tried to focus on specific numbers to help differentiate. WashU’s affiliated teaching hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, has more beds and more ORs than anywhere else I interviewed. We are an enormous regional medical center with a catchment area stretching hundreds of miles in every direction. We do every type of transplant, have a separate children’s hospital with its own set of ORs, have a large pain clinic that sees hundreds of patients a week, and are the largest trauma center in the region. When I interviewed other places, I was usually told something like “we do everything except ___”.

At WashU, I felt like I could see everything encompassed in the field of anesthesiology and graduate feeling comfortable no matter what I chose to specialize in.

I know we all have different criteria we use when evaluating a program, but I believe that many of us want to become great clinicians first and foremost. WashU excels at this, and it is why my fiancé and I wanted to come here. However, once we arrived we discovered that St. Louis is also one of the best places to live. We both went to medical school in New York and recently had some of our med school friends come out to visit us; they were floored by how easy it is to get around, how inexpensive a two bedroom apartment in the coolest neighborhood in the city is, and how easy it is to access things like Forest Park.

There is always a new restaurant to go to and something fun to do with my co-residents. We have fantastic professional sports teams (go Blues!) that are easy to go see. I have managed to train for and race in two marathons so far during residency and am planning on doing a few more before the end.

Whatever it is you like to do outside of work, this program balances quality of training with quality of life so that you can continue living the life you want.

I feel that becoming the best doctor possible is the most important thing to accomplish during residency. I would encourage applicants to be equally uncompromising with their education; if you do not learn how to do something in residency, you are unlikely to master it later on. At WashU you will see everything, do everything, and be the best trained anesthesiologist you can be, all while being surrounded by a supportive and fun group of people in a great city.

Benjamin Hargrave French, MD
BA, Harvard University ’11
MSc, Oxford University ’13
MD, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons ’17

Micaela Clark, MD — CA-3, Class of 2022

When selecting a residency program, I had several important elements that I was looking for. First and foremost, I wanted a program that would provide an exceptional educational experience with diverse training and medically complex patients. Secondly, it was important to be in a welcoming environment where I could find supportive individuals both within and outside of the hospital setting. Finally, I have always been a very social person and knew that I needed to look for a program that supported socialization outside of work, preferably in a location that boasted plenty of activities.

Beyond the residency program, I was also considering my long-term fellowship opportunities.

WashU provides fellowships in several areas, staffed by clinicians from around the world who bring cutting-edge clinical care, research, and education to the institution.

Many of the graduates from WashU’s anesthesiology program go on to complete a fellowship here, while those who pursue fellowships elsewhere feel they have a well-rounded education that makes them competitive in the application process.

Fast-forward a year: I recently completed my intern year at WashU’s affiliated teaching hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, which draws a wide variety of patients from the surrounding region, most of whom require complex, subspecialty care. As an anesthesia intern I rotated through many departments; Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Surgery to name a few, providing me with a well-rounded experience and enhanced understanding of the different services I will be working with throughout the hospital. Because interns spend the majority of their year as an “off-service resident,” I was concerned I would feel like I did not belong. However, I found all of the services to be welcoming and just as invested in my education as they were in their own residents. My fellow anesthesiology interns and I were even invited to other departments social events!

Outside of the hospital, I live in the Central West End. It is a neighborhood located within walking distance of the hospital that is more than an affordable neighborhood – it is convenient! I can easily walk not just to work, but also a grocery store, numerous restaurants and bars, and it is just a short drive to anything else I might need.

Micaela Clark

Both my home and the hospital are located near Forest Park, one of the largest free parks in the nation that includes biking, running, and walking trails (my dog loves them!), a zoo and several museums (all free!), and frequent festivals. Many of my fellow residents live in the Central West End too so it is very easy to get together and socialize after work.

Selecting WashU for my training has been a great experience in terms of both education and quality of life outside of work. I am looking forward to beginning my clinical anesthesia years and am confident I will be well trained to pursue a career as an Anesthesiologist.

Micaela Clark, MD
BS: University of Nebraska ’12
MD: University of Nebraska College of Medicine ’18

Kiran Kamath, MBBS — CA-3, Class of 2022

Kiran Kamath

Choosing a residency program is always a tough decision. While going through interview season, I remember making a mental checklist of things that were important to me: clinical experience, the nature of the residents with whom I’d be working, dedicated faculty, teaching, fellowship opportunities, research and location, among others. Most importantly, being an international medical graduate, I was looking for a place that I could call home for the next chapter of my life, and WashU has been exactly that.

Being born in the US, studying in a fast-developing country like India, and returning to the US for residency has been a very rewarding experience. I was impressed by WashU right from the start. The pre-interview dinner was a great opportunity for me to get to know the residents in the program, and I was pleased to see how warm and welcoming they were. The residents clearly took genuine interest in their program, and this feeling carried over to my interview day as well.

I was amazed by the breadth of clinical experience that WashU had to offer, its commitment to teaching, and how it was a powerhouse in every subspecialty.

This made me confident that WashU was the right choice for me.

My intern year at Barnes Jewish Hospital encompassed a wide variety of clinical rotations which provided me with well-rounded experience taking care of patients requiring complex care coming from all over the country. It was also a great opportunity for me to meet residents from other departments, many of whom I’d be interacting with in the OR environment very soon. We even attended several “off-service” social events with the attendings and their families! Often, the transition from intern year to CA-1 can be difficult, and it certainly was something I was nervous about, but that has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my residency thus far. We had the opportunity to learn the basics of the OR and how to handle emergencies in our state-of-the-art simulation center, after which we adopted the “buddy system” with a fellow CA-1 and transitioned through various subspecialty rotations. This formed a solid foundation for our CA-1 year, where we dive right into subspecialties like pediatrics, trauma, CT, OB, transplant, pain, ICU, etc. I have enjoyed working with and learning from my fellow residents as we care for these patients, and I am looking forward to further improving my knowledge and skills in CA-2 and CA-3.

On a more personal note, I am very fortunate to have met my significant other, Nakul, at WashU. We live right next to the hospital in the vibrant Central West End, which is filled with restaurants, bars, shops, and a movie theater. Perhaps my favorite part of this area is the close proximity to Forest Park, which is one of the largest parks in the country! It’s filled with biking trails, free museums and theaters and is a great spot to spend time with friends after work or on the weekends.

Looking back now, almost halfway through my residency, I can say with utmost confidence that WashU has been everything I had wanted in a residency program.

I am sure that the people I meet and the experiences I have here will continue to shape me as a doctor and as a person.

Dima Aladdin, MD — CA-2, Class of 2023

I first came to WashU as a visiting medical student from Lebanon to complete a rotation in the different anesthesia subspecialties. During that time, I found myself among a great group of residents, who were happy and satisfied with their training. I admired the open and inclusive learning environment, as well as the interaction between the residents and faculty. After my positive experience as a medical student, I was determined to pursue a residency at WashU. Today, as I approach the end of my intern year, I could not be happier with my decision to train here!

Needless to say, WashU and its affiliated hospitals, namely Barnes Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, serve as tertiary referral centers and rank among the top hospitals in the US. I feel reassured knowing that during my residency I will be well exposed to a vast number of cases including the complicated and rare ones.

What really makes WashU unique is the nurturing culture and community of the faculty and staff who are not only committed to our education and success, but also care about our well-being.

Over the past year and despite being an off-service intern, I have felt that I belong to a department that puts our needs first. They constantly made sure that we were not being overworked and that our concerns were heard and addressed in a timely manner. We were also included in all of the department’s events and gatherings allowing us to meet and bond with other residents and faculty.

As for my intern year, I would describe it as the perfect balance between demanding rotations and rather easier ones, such as the Simulation month during which we had enough time to study and take our Step 3 test. At the beginning, I was nervous about the transition between medical school and residency. However, the support and patience of the faculty and residents in the different departments we rotate in, as well as the various resources that are always available, gave me a chance to learn, grow, and challenge myself while feeling safe. It was indeed a “steep learning curve,” as we were told, yet the knowledge I had gained from the various departments (medicine, surgery, ED, SICU, CTICU…) has made me a well-rounded resident ready for my CA-1 year.

The department has also supported my interest in research by funding my trip to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) conference where I presented my work during intern year. They have also helped me connect with research mentors, even though I am not on the research track!

When it comes to living in St. Louis, my husband has recently moved here, and we both really like it – a special shout-out to my number one supporter for leaving everything behind to be with me! We live in Central West End across the street from Forest Park, and I enjoy walking to work every day. We also enjoy biking in that beautiful park and to downtown St. Louis. On top of that, St. Louis is a very affordable city to live in, and you can always find something to do here or a new place to discover. We did travel several times to see our families and friends on both coasts during my long weekends which is one of the perks of living in the midwest.

Finally, moving to a new country and starting residency at the same time were definitely challenging, to say the least. I will always be grateful for the support of my family and school back home.

Being an international medical graduate, I was worried about being able to fit in. WashU; however, is home for people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

I have met some great people from different specialties and have made some very close friends over the past year. In fact, as I become the anesthesiologist I aspire to be, I feel very privileged to call WashU my new home!

Dima El Halawani Aladdin, MD
BS: Lebanese American University ’14
MD: Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury SOM, Lebanese American University ’18

Herman Luther, MD, MBA — CA-1, Class of 2024

I first visited Washington University in St. Louis in the spring of 2011 while touring college campuses during my senior year of high school. My counselors at the time told me to choose a school that would allow me to pursue my goal of becoming a physician while also celebrating diversity, innovation, inclusivity, and leadership. WashU not only “checked all the boxes” my counselors outlined for me, but also appealed to my eagerness to explore a new city after living in the Boston suburbs for nearly all of my childhood. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to call WashU home as an undergraduate.

Nearly a decade later, I faced a similar set of recommendations from my mentors in medical school as I interviewed at residency programs. However, the decision of where to train was much more nuanced as I also weighed academic rigor, research opportunities, breadth of training, faculty availability, and program culture. My wife, whom I met as a freshman in college, and I were also couples’ matching as incoming interns which placed an extra emphasis on the importance of collaboration between departments (because vacationing alone is not nearly as fun!).

Almost every program I interviewed with provided some form of guarantee they would fulfill those training needs but, during the pre-interview dinner and interview day at WashU, a few things stood out to me as unique from other programs. First, there was an incredible number of residents available throughout the interview process, all of whom were eager to share their experiences and individual reasons for choosing to train at WashU. Second, everyone I met in the department was genuinely interested in who I was as a person, not just what was on my application, with several reaching out afterward to discuss how they could help tailor my residency training to be as fulfilling as possible. Lastly, and likely most importantly, there was an undeniable sense of community between the residents, faculty, and staff that made everyone, including me, feel appreciated for their contribution toward patient care. Choosing WashU again for residency was a no-brainer.

Everyone I met in the department was genuinely interested in who I was as a person, not just what was on my application, with several reaching out afterward to discuss how they could help tailor my residency training to be as fulfilling as possible.

As a resident, I realized the experiences I had during my interview visit were only a small part of what makes WashU an exceptional place to train. Due to the low cost of living, my wife and I were able to purchase a home in the Central West End just a few minutes from the hospital, Forest Park, and an abundance of new restaurants and bars. Throughout the year, my co-residents and I have been able to take advantage of the flexible schedule and beautiful weather by hiking local trails, biking to various parks in the city, or going wine tasting at local vineyards. Thanks to the categorical PGY-1 year, I have had the opportunity to rotate through many departments, learning how the practice of anesthesia is integrated in the hospital and making a host of new friends along the way. And, in the generous amount of free time on various rotations, I have been able to take several weekend trips with friends and family.

When I chose anesthesiology as a career, I was immediately drawn to its nature as a fast-paced specialty that relies on communication, problem-solving skills, and interdisciplinary excellence. Throughout my training so far, I have seen how WashU helps its residents become leaders in the field of anesthesiology by developing each of those skills while also encouraging individuality and creativity. More importantly, I have seen how deeply it cares for each of its residents and their aspirations.

I am thrilled(!!) to be done with the residency application process and serve as a physician alongside incredibly talented colleagues and, if ever given the opportunity to go back and do it all over, there is no doubt I would choose WashU again 100% of the time.

Herman Luther, MD, MBA
AB: Washington University in St. Louis, 2015
MBA: University of Chicago – Booth School of Business, 2020
MD: University of Chicago – Pritzker School of Medicine, 2020