A Day in the Life

The clinical experience at Duke is unparalleled. The patient population is predominantly composed of residents of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, but many travel from all parts of the world to seek superb perioperative care. Duke is a leading center for lung transplants and also performs many heart, liver, kidney and small bowel transplants. The diverse patient population and strong surgical programs at Duke afford the opportunity to provide anesthesia to very ill patients for very complex surgeries. This training environment ensures that each of our residents will graduate with the skills and knowledge to care for wide range of patients undergoing a vast range of surgeries, and the confidence to be comfortable in any situation they might encounter during their future career.

The faculty is extremely personable and approachable, which helps create ideal learning conditions. Efforts to encourage work-life balance as well as willingness to mentor in research endeavors make these individuals fantastic to work with on a daily basis.  Given the collegial atmosphere, it would be easy to forget many of the faculty members are international leaders in their field, serving as journal editors, committee representatives, textbook authors, oral board examiners, written board question authors, etc. This distinction and insight allow Duke residents to gain a unique perspective into the academic process, and can facilitate the groundwork for one\’s career – regardless of which path seems best for an individual.

At the beginning of CA-1 year, residents are given iPads as well as digital copies of the essential anesthesia textbooks (Miller’s Anesthesia, Anesthesiology by Longnecker, and Anesthesia and Co-Existing Diseases). Residents are also given a substantial book fund for the purchase of additional anesthesia texts or educational materials.

The initial week of CA-1 training is spent outside the operating room and consists of a daily lecture series to introduce the basics of anesthesiology. Training includes multiple small group simulator sessions where “mock” cases are performed in a low pressure and supportive environment. The following three weeks consist of resident teams working under a single attending with complete supervision and maximum intraoperative teaching to establish comfort in the operating room prior to working autonomously.

Wednesday morning Grand Rounds are presented to the entire department. Grand Rounds lectures are given by Duke faculty, fellows, residents and visiting professors. The subject matter varies but includes clinical case conference, new research and updated developments in anesthesia.

Weekly resident lectures are split up into CA-1 lecture on Tuesday afternoons and CA-2/3 lectures on Wednesday afternoons to cover level-specific topics. Two to three times a month all residents meet for Thursday evening lectures which are either Morbidity and Mortality Conference or Journal Club. The “M & M” Conference provides a non-threatening forum for residents to present their own cases for discussion with other residents and a single faculty moderator. The articles for Journal Club are presented by the residents with a faculty moderator with an emphasis on seminal papers in anesthesia. Occasionally these Thursday lectures will cover miscellaneous important topics such as preparing for the oral boards or negotiating employment contracts.

Lastly, twice annually all residents participate in mock oral boards to eliminate some of the mystery and anxiety associated with the process, which is culminated in a pizza party.

With recent opening of new operating rooms and critical care units, there is much excitement about what this growth will afford the anesthesia residency training program. There is no doubt that the complexity of surgical cases and patients will continue to expand, further broadening our scope of practice.

Research opportunities are abundant. All subspecialty sections within the department of anesthesia are very productive academically.  Faculty members often have multiple simultaneous projects and are happy to collaborate with trainees. Residents are not required to participate in research but can do so easily if they are interested. Attendance at research meetings is also supported if the resident\’s training schedule allows. If a resident presents at a national meeting, the department is often able to pay for travel, room, meals and attendance. In addition, residents have a travel fund to facilitate attendance at conferences where they are not presenting. For residents who are interested in a research-focused career, the residency training program offers two ACES positions annually. Please refer to the ACES program section of the website for more information.

Life in Durham is often described as “easy living.” The cost of living is relatively low and traffic jams are nearly non-existent. Grocery stores and shopping centers are conveniently located and easily accessible no matter where you live.

The Research Triangle, and Durham in particular, offers plenty of great food and activities for residents and their families. Numerous local restaurants have been featured in The New York Times and many well-known gourmet food magazines.  There are multiple different famers markets during the summer months, with the Raleigh farmers market open year-round.

Live music is offered on Friday evenings during the summer months at the American Tobacco Lawn (Music on the Lawn) and in Chapel Hill at the Carolina Inn (Fridays on the Front Porch). Durham is home to the Durham Bulls Minor League Baseball team. Homes games are always fun to attend. The patio of the sports bar, Tobacco Road, which borders the outfield, is a crowded and lively scene during the games.

College basketball season is always an exciting time at Duke. Although tickets for the Cameron Stadium games are not easy to obtain, many enjoy watching the game at local bars and restaurants with friends.

For the outdoor enthusiast, Duke Forest and the American Tobacco trail are great places to run and bike. Eno River offers a scenic place for canoeing, fishing, camping and hiking. Jordan Lake and Falls Lake are nearby and are convenient locales for boating and swimming.

For a quick weekend getaway, the North Carolina beaches are within a 3-hour drive. Asheville, NC is a 3-hour drive and is home to the famous Biltmore Estate. It is also a great place for mountain sports such as hiking, trail running, ziplining, rafting and biking. Additionally Charlotte is only 130 miles away, and Washington, DC is only 250 miles, meaning both can easily be reached by car.

The camaraderie among our residents is unmistakable and strong friendships are inevitable. Residents often attend parties and functions at each other’s homes. There is a weekly Wednesday evening tradition of gathering at a local restaurant for food and drinks to “celebrate half week.” In the past few years, residents have participated in many extra-curricular activities together, including playing on an city soft ball team, TOUGH-MUDDER extreme physical challenge teams, running half-marathons (and 5ks), dance classes, going to the beach, and going camping, to name a few.

Many residency applicants often wonder what a typical day is like as a Duke Anesthesiology resident. Included here are descriptions of a few specific rotations from residents themselves. As you read, we hope that you can imagine yourself here with us in the future, enjoying the Duke experience for yourself!

A Day in the life of…

Jason Hall, MD, JD, Intern Year
Anu Doshi, MD, CA-1 Year
Shawn Jia, MD, CA-2 Year
Mike Plakke, MD, CA-3 Year
Kendall Smith, MD, ACES Program