Anesthesiology: take 2

 I spent a month doing an anesthesiology rotation in Oklahoma. For residency (post-med school training for doctors), we have to apply and interview. It helps if you spend a month working at the programs you’re interested in, because then when they interview you, you aren’t just someone they’ve met on paper. So, I did a month at an Oklahoma residency I am interested in for anesthesiology. 

It. Was. Amazing. I was able to see some incredible surgeries, work with amazing physicians, and learn a TON about what it means to be an anesthesiologist/anesthesia resident. I loved the program because it’s smaller and the residents overall get a lot of responsibility and autonomy. This particular program also sees a lot of cardiac cases (special to me because a) super interesting and complex patients and b) hubby has a congenital heart defect). I really enjoyed the Attending physicians and how they interacted with the residents, and I really liked the balance of anesthesiology and other services (ICU, cardiac, pulmonology) during intern year of residency (this program has about 6 months of anesthesiology first year, where other programs have much less). Before I left, some of the residents pulled me aside and told me they thought I would be a great fit for the program. I always bake something for my Attendings for the rotations I enjoy, so this time I tried a new recipe! I made toffee butterscotch pecan cookies… And the Program Director (read: head honcho) told me they were “damn good” and if I “make these for him every week, I have a spot at their program.” So I love the program and *hopefully* they loved me! So, why anesthesiology?
In short, I love it.
I love the physiology (how stuff works) and pharmacology (how drugs work) from anesthesiology and how things can change super fast in the operating room… Anesthesiologists have to think quickly on their feet and make changes at a moment’s notice. It’s fast-paced and exciting! For those same reasons, anesthesiology is very intellectually stimulating. On my third year rotations (aside from my radiology Attending who was a human encyclopedia) the Anesthesiologists have by far been the most knowledgeable members of the team when it comes to how the body works. I’ve always had a deep respect for their knowledge base, so the thought of getting to tap into that and develop my own excites me. If you read my post about my very first third year rotation, surgery, you know I absolutely LOVE being in the operating room and working with surgeons. In that sense, anesthesia is perfect because I get to do both of those things full time! I love small procedures too, and got to do quite a bit while on my rotation in Oklahoma. I also love working on one patient at a time, completely dedicated to their care. It’s also just really cool to help the patient stay calm before surgery and work behind our little anesthesiology curtain, using our magic to keep the patient alive… Kinda like the Wizard of Oz!
Another draw to the field is patient safety. Obviously all doctors care about the safety of their patients, but for me particularly it is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. My own grandfather died as a result of a medical error. In 2014, I applied and was selected to attend a national conference on patient safety in Telluride, Colorado and it was incredible. Since that conference and learning of the resources available to physicians, I’ve envisioned myself being a huge patient advocate/activist on patient safety in my future practice….so imagine my surprise when I discovered that anesthesiology is the only specialty with a patient safety foundation! Check, another tally for anesthesiology!
The icing on the cake was what my husband had to say about it. He doesn’t care what I do as long as I’m happy (and as long as it doesn’t land us back in Kirksville, haha). I asked if he could tell if I liked any specialty over another. He said when I called him everyday and told him about the things I had seen and done while on this Oklahoma rotation, I sounded more excited than he’s ever heard me. To me, that’s not something that can be faked. I wouldn’t choose a specialty solely on that happening, but when I’m torn between two, and my husband is telling me he can tell a difference in my attitude daily? I think that speaks to how I truly feel in my heart.
I love peds. And I love anesthesia. I may rank one or the other, or I may rank both. The good news? I know others who have been in my same situation and have come out on top with successful and happy careers. I recently found out my own father-in-law had ranked 2 specialties! So regardless of what I choose or end up doing, I know it will work out and I’ll be exactly where God wants me, providing the best quality care I can to my patients. It’s scary, uncertain, and nerve-wracking. But it’s also exciting, fast-paced, and involves a lot of faith. I find a lot of comfort knowing that no matter what, I will end up doing what I love!

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