David Carr, DO
I am overwhelmingly fortunate. This is partly due to great decisions I have made in my life such as serving as a missionary in Costa Rica, marrying the perfect companion, serving in the Navy as a flight surgeon, and choosing WashU.
In medical school I fell in love twice. First with my wife Melanie, and second with anesthesia. I loved seeing the instant effects of pharmacology and the hands-on nature of the procedures. After deciding on anesthesia in medical school, I completed my internship at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, and went on to complete my military obligations as a flight surgeon in the United States Navy prior to starting my anesthesia residency. My time as a flight surgeon gave me the luxury of reflecting on what I really wanted in a future residency program. I discovered while working in an administrative role in different flight squadrons that the key to a successful team was a positive atmosphere and psychological safety. I knew it was pertinent to my future success as an anesthesiologist to find a residency program that not only provided excellent clinical experience by ample exposure to complex high acuity patients requiring high risk procedures, but also strove to maintain a safe and positive learning environment.
During my interview season I asked very specific questions to hone in on the emotional and psychological safety of individual residents. I asked questions like “How willing are attending physicians to teach and answer questions?” and “Have you ever felt personally attacked or humiliated by an attending physician?” I was consistently impressed by how the culture of WashU was education and understanding and not blame and retribution.
Since being at WashU, I have greatly benefited from the positive culture and enthusiastic teaching of the compassionate attending physicians who work here. I have been entirely satisfied in my choice.
For the first time in four years our location was not determined by the Navy. We wanted to choose a place with a short commute, but also excellent public schools, affordable housing, good food, and entertainment. We are still surprised we were able to find it all! My family has absolutely fallen in love with St. Louis. Our children are THRIVING in their highly ranked public schools. My wife loves the proximity of schools, parks, swimming pools, public libraries, shopping, and a vast variety of restaurants. We love having visitors come and stay with us because we never run out of things to see and do. Pappy’s (BBQ), Ted Drewes (frozen custard), and the St. Louis City Museum are a few of our favorite things to introduce to our visitors. WashU has a wonderful program setup (WUMCHA) to support significant others while they support their resident during these strenuous training years. My wife has joined many social events with and without our children. We have been succeeding at WashU, and I am confident that those who come here will as well.
David Carr, DO
BS: Brigham Young University ’08
DO: Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine ’12
Dean Thorsen, DO, PhD
The operating room is my favorite place to be in the hospital. An early experience with anesthesia during medical school opened my eyes to this exciting field, as I found the care of patients who are undergoing surgery to be an interesting and rewarding experience. So much of medical care takes place between the physician and patient; in anesthesia, patient care is simultaneously intertwined with surgical care and the anesthesiologist must function as part of a team. Anesthesia appeals to me because I enjoy applying basic medical and physiological principles in real time to care for patients. As a medical student I rotated in a cardiothoracic ICU run by anesthesia, as well as operative, pain management and perioperative surgical home environments. These experiences showed me the central role of the anesthesiologist in patient care, regardless of how the medical profession evolves over time.
Through the residency and interview process, I was looking for an academic program with an integrated intern year, opportunities to participate in diverse and complex surgical environments, and a full breadth of fellowship opportunities. I also wanted to be part of an institution that would challenge and support my growth, working with other residents who aspire to leadership in the profession. WashU Anesthesia provides all of these and so much more. As a physician-scientist I wanted to be part of a department whose foundation is a deeper level of learning. My positive initial impression of WashU was enhanced by the friendly, professional demeanor of the residents, attendings and staff that I met during the interview and the incredible wealth of knowledge and resources within the department.
So, why Washington University and why St Louis? Ultimately, the decision came down to two things: quality of training and quality of life. It was important to select a location where I could receive excellent training and my family could thrive. My wife and I have lived throughout the country, and the quality of life here rivals that of major cities on either coast.
St. Louis is a family-friendly and easy place to live: affordable and high quality housing and great public schools are available within a short commuting distance of the hospital and the region offers an amazing array of low-cost and free museums, attractions, and activities.
I feel confident that WashU will provide a solid foundation for my anesthesia career and that my family will flourish during our time in St Louis.
Dean Thorsen, DO, PhD
BS, University of Florida ’03
PhD, University of Chicago ’06
DO, Touro University – California ’16
Benjamin Hargrave 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
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.
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