Duke Anesthesiology Introduces New Education Classes

Duke Anesthesiology has taken another step forward in achieving its mission of “providing extraordinary care through a unique culture of innovation, education, research and professional growth” with the launch of new education initiatives focusing on medical students.

For the first time ever, this department has created courses that venture into a new environment and accept fourth-year medical students outside of Duke, all in effort to increase diversity and allow medical students here and abroad the opportunity to take part in premier anesthesia rotations in the Department of Anesthesiology.

The Creation of “Anesth401C” and “Anesth402C” 

Dr. Quintin Quinones believes the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) is one of the premiere learning environments at Duke University Hospital (DUH) but nationwide, he says it’s not typically a place where med students are part of the team or where education is offered due to the high acuity of the patients and lack of educational focus. It wasn’t until he became faculty with the Department of Anesthesiology that Dr. Quinones realized the vital need for a course in the CTICU where students could receive critical care training like never before.

Determined to make that happen, he spent about one year, from start to finish, on his “passion project” – writing two cardio intensive care courses (a four-year elective and a sub-internship), formally proposing them to the Duke University School of Medicine’s curriculum committee and getting them approved.

“When I saw the opportunity to write a course, I was really excited about it,” says Dr. Quinones. “The next generation of physicians needs to be well-equipped with the knowledge provided in these new courses and medical school is where we lay that foundation.”

The courses were rolled out to medical students this past February – courses that Duke Anesthesiology has never offered before until this year. Dr. Quinones’ courses are unique because the sub-internship is also offered to visiting medical students and because of what students will be exposed to in the CTICU at DUH. According to Dr. Quinones, medical students rarely see patients who are on ECMO, and they almost never see patients who are on veno-arterial ECMO for cardiogenic shock or patients who have mechanical assisted devices such as LVADs and RVADs. Now, they have that opportunity; students can interact with cardiac intensivists and play an active role in how those patients are cared for.

“When I was a medical student at Duke, I never saw a patient on ECMO or saw an LVAD,” says Dr. Quinones. “These are parts of 21st century medicine that are becoming more and more common; it’s not unheard of to take care of a patient that has one of these devices as a non-cardiac anesthesiologist. Med students should understand how these novel techniques work and the basics of how to care for patients that require this high level of support.”

Not only are these courses a milestone for the Department of Anesthesiology, they’re a milestone for Dr. Quinones’ career as a first-time medical course creator. “I really like education and I love teaching. I discovered that during my residency and fellowship here at Duke.”

But in true Duke fashion, Dr. Quinones gives credit to the team of colleagues who helped him implement these courses including his mentor, Dr. Mihai Podgoreanu, chief of the Cardiothoracic Anesthesia Division, and Dr. Nancy Knudsen, course director for the Surgery Intensive Care Unit medical student rotation, both of whom were supportive and instrumental in guiding him through the process. He also credits Jaime Cooke who helps administrate the courses which begin again this August.

“I have found that training others is the highest level of education you can achieve. When you can teach others that means you really know your craft well and that’s very satisfying to me. And, it’s rewarding to see medical students picking up that knowledge,” says Dr. Quinones. “I hope this advanced level of learning will continue to be a cornerstone of education at Duke.”

Newly Designed Course Rolls Out This Fall

When Duke Anesthesiology’s chairman asked for an existing course to be opened, for the first time, to visiting medical students, Drs. Alicia Warlick and Eleanor Vega were excited to take on the role as course directors.

With leadership from Duke University’s School of Medicine, Drs. Warlick and Vega spent the past few months creating the new course, titled “Clinical Anesthesiology for Visiting Medical Students,” which will officially roll out this August and will be offered to four visiting medical students – one for each of the elective periods for the fall 2016 term.

Throughout the four-week course, visiting students will spend their days in different operating rooms interacting with a variety of anesthesiology attendings. Dr. Warlick hopes to lead these students through a very diverse curriculum, including every subspecialty in anesthesia, along with offering them the opportunity to do airways, lines and clinical procedures.

“This course aims to provide visiting medical students with the whole perioperative picture which I hope will ultimately peak these students’ interests in something they’ve never experienced before – something new that they see during this rotation that solidifies their interest in a subspecialty,” says Dr. Warlick. “In turn, we hope to recruit more diverse students and receive more applications for our department’s residency program.”

“We certainly attract the best of the best to apply for the Duke Anesthesiology Residency Program and we want to ensure that we’re attracting excellent students from a wide variety of backgrounds and institutions,” adds Dr. Vega. “This rotation will give visiting medical students in-depth exposure to our curriculum, residents and faculty which we hope will encourage them to apply for our residency program.”

As Duke Anesthesiology continues to broaden its educational offerings, it’s clear that its faculty will continue the Duke tradition of being an institution of lifelong learning. “Anytime people come together with different backgrounds and experiences, we all learn from one another,” concludes Dr. Vega. “We’re excited to meet the students and see what they can bring to the table.”