Five Questions with Dr. Lak

Dr. Lak teaching residents in the anesthesiology simulation center.

Learn more about Assistant Program Director of Residency Education, Dr. Anand Lakshminarasimhachar “Lak” and his family, hobbies, and favorite procedures in this short interview.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

My favorite part of the job would be doing cases that are challenging and exciting. It is more fun when I get an opportunity to do such cases with residents. Our residents are always eager to learn and participate in such difficult cases, and sharing knowledge and also constantly learning new things in the process is what makes the job exciting. You can’t be a good teacher if you are not willing to be a good student for life and learn new things every day.

What led you to St. Louis and WashU’s School of Medicine?

I had an opportunity to spend a year in the anesthesiology department at WashU as a part of my FRCA training at the King’s College Hospital in London. I wanted to get experience in anesthesia for heart and lung transplants, and there is no better place than Barnes-Jewish Hospital for that. Our current chairman, Dr. Avidan, encouraged me to come to WashU as he felt that working here would enrich my experience in cardiothoracic anesthesia. I enjoyed the work experience here at WashU and did not hesitate when I was given an offer to stay here permanently.

What is your favorite type of anesthesia case?

I would say providing anesthesia for thoracoabdominal aneurysm repair. I call it the mother of all anesthetics. You get to place a lumbar drain, double-lumen tube, multiple lines, left heart bypass, or full bypass (exciting physiology in action). Overall, very challenging, and at the end of the day, very satisfying. Lung transplants are a very close second.

How did you become involved with resident education and TEE education?

Ever since I was a resident, I was always interested in teaching. I realized that the best way to learn is to teach. When I joined the department 16 years ago as a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist, TEE was in its infancy. I started teaching echo skills to residents and fellows, and in the process, I improved my echo skills. I later became the Director of Resident education and got more intricately involved with resident education. In the last 5 years, I have been trying to improve my skills in transthoracic echocardiography and also Point of Care Ultrasound, which has become a very essential component of an anesthesiologist’s armamentarium.

What are your hobbies/passions outside of the hospital?

I love playing tennis, going for long walks, reading books, and listening to Indian classical music. I am an avid follower of World Cricket. I have a keen interest in Ancient Indian wisdom, and I teach high schools about this subject on weekends at the Hindu temple. I am a keen student of yoga and meditation and have been regularly practicing it for the last 4 years.

Any special shoutouts (eg to family, friends, colleagues)

To my wife Smitha and kids Rohan and Rayna (and of course my 2 dogs Sparky and Skye), for their unconditional love and support and for making my life so beautiful. I feel blessed to be working in a department where each and everyone is so supportive and caring. It’s been an amazing journey in St. Louis at WashU.