After interviewing extensively throughout the country, I was left with what one interviewer described as a “tyranny of choices” in making my rank list. By reflecting on what each institution had to offer, it became clear that Wash U stood out amongst the rest in every aspect of academic anesthesiology. With nationally and internationally renowned faculty in each clinical subspecialty, Wash U offers the highest level of experience and training to our residents.
Now entering my final year of training, this program continues to meet my expectations. Our adult and pediatric hospitals are the tertiary/quaternary care centers in the region and the residency experience flows from being deeply engrained in a culture of clinical excellence. From our anesthesia-led critical care experience, outstanding pain management center, dedicated pediatric hospital, to our high volume solid organ transplant programs, our residents are well prepared to transition to academic or private practice. The program continues to grow clinicians and scientists with the mission to produce leaders in anesthesiology.
More importantly, there are few other programs that can boast such a reputation and training quality while set in a low-cost city with a high standard of living. As the father of two children, St. Louis boasts a strong public school system, affordable housing, and easy commuting whether you wish to live in the city or the suburbs.
I vividly remember the Match process from two years ago — the application, the nervous wait for interview invitations, the frantic packing (and unpacking) of a suitcase, and, most importantly, opening that letter. As a medical student, it can be hard to know what to look for in a residency program because you really do not know what you are looking for; you have never really done anything like this before.
As an M.D-Ph.D. and aspiring physician-scientist, I essentially broke down my interviews into two broad categories: clinical training and scientific training. In the end, WashU was the best fit for both my clinical and scientific needs. With regards to clinical training, I believe there can be few better places than our institution. In fact, the one thing I hear over and over again when I go to conferences or meet practicing anesthesiologists is about the quality of residents trained at WashU. Barnes-Jewish Hospital is a tertiary care institution pulling from most of Missouri as well as routinely from neighboring states (Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, and Kentucky) and internationally. You will see a wide range of pathologies and patient presentations.; you will be challenged. The great aspect of this institution, though, is that you will never be on an island, there is always someone there to help, whether it is your fellow residents, our fantastic clinical fellows, your attending, or even other services’ attendings. The institution is very collegial and everyone is here to care for the patients. In terms of anesthesiology training, one major advantage this program has is exposure to subspecialty anesthesiology your CA-1 year. As a CA-1, I did Cardiac, Obstetric, Pain, and Pediatric Anesthesiology. This training has elevated what I am capable of and comfortable with in other settings (i.e., in the ICU or other general ORs). I think it is an invaluable experience and is part of what makes our training so unique. As we are a large institution with essentially every sub-specialty area of anesthesiology available, there is plenty of room for you to explore your own interests here with us.
When it comes to scientific endeavors, WashU is second to none. Our department consistently ranks either first or second in total NIH funding. Our research programs are quite diverse ranging from basic science to clinical trials. We are doing significant work in all frontiers of anesthesiology, ranging from basic endeavors such as mechanisms of general anesthesia and studies on consciousness to applications of the latest technologies, such as the use of machine learning in anesthesiology and critical care settings. All of our residents are welcome to participate in the scientific endeavors of our community, whether you just want to come to Science Garage and listen to the latest and greatest that is happening in our department or if you want to get your hands dirty and contribute to advancing anesthesiology, I promise there is a place here for you!
Lastly, I wanted to comment on the camaraderie among residents here. As part of any residency, you will be working long hours at the hospital in very physically and mentally demanding situations. Our residents carry friendly faces and are always willing to lend a hand or some advice when you need it. We have quite a few social gatherings, including a department-sponsored get-together every month. These are always fun and a way to get to know your fellow residents (and their families) outside the confines of the hospital.
I hope you will take a closer look at our program and even join us here in Saint Louis!
Having gone to both undergrad and medical school in my southern hometown, I applied to numerous anesthesia programs across the coasts because I wanted to branch out during residency. However, when I finally sat down in mid-February to draft my rank list, I knew that the only place I would want to be was at WashU. As I pondered the pros and cons of each program, the Department’s overwhelmingly helpfulness of the staff, the apparent collegial atmosphere shared among the residents, and the endless dedication of faculty towards resident education and training were just some of the interview day memories that deeply resonated with me.
Now as a CA-2 resident who has called WashU home for the past 2 years, I could not be more thankful to be training at this world-renowned institution. Since day one, the program incorporated rotations such as the CPAP clinic, CTICU, and simulation lab into the vigorous intern year schedule to help build our anesthesia foundation and prepare us for a challenging yet gratifying CA-1 year. At WashU, I have had the opportunity to take care of some of the most critically ill surgical patients from across the country, sometimes the world, while participating in countless complex and challenging cases. Day by day, I am honing my personal skills as I learn from pioneers and worldwide leaders in the field of anesthesiology. I have no doubt my training here will thoroughly prepare me for what is to come after graduation.
One of my favorite aspects of this program is that it offers frequent opportunities for residents and attendings to organize monthly get-togethers during which we can share our clinical experiences, words of wisdom, and laughter. Residency may be tough at times but with a family of supportive co-residents and faculty members who are constantly reshaping you to become the best, there is no place I would rather be!
As I began the interview process, I had a few things that I was looking for in a program: good people, great training, work-life balance, and a convenient location.
I ranked WashU number one on my list because it was truly the only program that offered all of these things. I met a lot of great people along the interview trail but WashU was one of the only places where I engaged in normal conversations with residents, where the topics were not all about the program specifics. I have made some of the best friends I have ever had during residency, and met some of the nicest humans I have ever known.
In addition to the benevolent environment this program has to offer, WashU provides a truly well-rounded clinical experience and curriculum. Going through training, I have already noticed the growing confidence within myself when handling difficult situations. Starting off with our transitional intern year, I really got to know the hospital well and made many great friends along the way in other specialties. In addition to the wonderful colleagues/friends I have met, the attendings here are supportive, nurturing, and excellent educators. The WashU culture and dedication to education, hard work, and most importantly camaraderie, is unparalleled.
Work-life balance is another thing that was extremely important to me when choosing a program. I definitely got a sense of how social the program is from my interview but I had no idea the extent of it until I came here. The monthly happy hours alone sold me! But then you start attending the program’s other events like the fall gala (a very fancy black tie affair) and you realize that you are in great company. Everyone enjoys their lives just as much as they enjoy their work, and it is a beautiful thing!
And lastly, one thing that was really important for me was location in relation to my hometown of Nashville, TN. I wanted to ability to either take a direct flight home (which is possible because St. Louis airport is a Southwest hub) or be able to drive there in less than a day if I needed to. I knew very little about St. Louis initially so I asked a lot of questions during the interview, but generally you will hear the same great things—affordable place to live, good food, etc.
When I matched here, I started getting nervous about moving to St. Louis as I had only ever lived in big cities in the east coast and the south. Living in a smaller midwestern city was going to be an entirely new experience for me. In bigger cities, people say there is “always something to do.” Living in St. Louis, you find unique things to do and this has really diversified my experiences and interests. Another thing that scared me was the misconception that everyone is married/has kids here. I came here with no kids and unmarried and am having a great time!
WashU has offered me all these things and more (things I did not even know I wanted in a program until I was here)! Whether you want to go into academics, pursue further specialization via fellowship, or go straight into private practice, the department will support and help you achieve your goals. I have made lifelong friendships here and have come to really enjoy the city of St. Louis!