Jason D. Hall, MD, JD
The transition from medical school to residency is a very exciting time for newly-minted graduates. However, it can also be an anxiety-provoking experience to find oneself suddenly charged with true responsibility for patient care. While a requisite amount of this anxiety is normal, there is no need to be overly intimidated when beginning the Duke Anesthesiology PGY-1 curriculum. There is plenty of support available for new residents both within each rotation and from the department itself.
Each month of the PGY-1 year is devoted to a different rotation, three of which are sponsored by Duke Anesthesiology. This clinical base year provides critical care experience in pediatrics and surgery, exposure to cardiology and pulmonology, training in emergency medicine, and limits general ward medicine to one month. Most rotations are located at Duke University Hospital, but PGY-1 trainees also rotate at the Durham VAMC (VA-SICU) and Duke Regional Hospital (General Medicine and General Surgery).
In addition to a month spent with Duke Anesthesiology in the ORs, there is an Acute Pain Service rotation and an elective month. During the elective month, most residents choose to train in the world-renowned Duke Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology (although there are other opportunities available). Each of the three vacation weeks during PGY-1 year is taken during these anesthesia-based rotations.
Because the requirements of each rotation vary, schedules vary throughout the year. Some rotations will include one or two non-consecutive weeks of night float. Most shifts start around 7am for ward rotations and 6am for ICU rotations. Some rotations will have weekends off whereas others will maintain a 6-on/1-off schedule. Duty hours never exceed 80 hours weekly, and in my personal experience, I worked on average for the year between 65-70 hours each week.
Despite being away from Duke Anesthesiology for most of the year, PGY-1 trainees are always welcome in the department and actively encouraged to attend its social and educational events. Lunch is also provided at a monthly educational lecture series for PGY-1s, which is a great opportunity to catch up with your co-interns. My internship class also frequently spent time together away from the hospital and developed a very tight-knit group. One advantage of the Duke Anesthesiology internship is the many friendships you will make around the hospital with residents of multiple training programs. As you move on in training, you continue to see many familiar faces over the years.
Internship is a challenging time in the training required to become an anesthesiologist. Duke Anesthesiology has assembled a program that provides the most relevant experience for future anesthesiologists to maximize the benefits of this year. More importantly, Duke Anesthesiology is incredibly supportive of its trainees at every level, they take feedback seriously, and they take action where it is needed. I am incredibly thankful for having chosen Duke Anesthesiology for residency. I am confident that my internship year could not have provided me a better educational experience.