Kendall Smith, MD
The Academic Career Enrichment Scholars (ACES) program is an innovative research/residency track designed to foster the success of the next generation of physician scientists within the realm of perioperative medicine. As part of this program, residents are provided 12 months of protected research time during the CA3 year to work with prominent scientists and clinicians across Duke University.
One of the fundamental goals of protected research time as defined by the ACES program is to encourage the ACES resident to accumulate high-yield experiences that will ultimately serve as building blocks for successful careers as physician scientists. In addition to research, ACES residents may also enroll in a variety of didactic research courses with individual interests and goals in mind. In order to maximize efficiency and the chance of success, one month of protected research time is also provided during the CA2 year for collection of preliminary data and/or project design. (Grant application, when feasible, is also encouraged during this month). It should be noted that prior ACES residents have been awarded various grants including the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) Research Fellowship Grant. These examples speak to the success of the ACES program as well as its smart design as a whole.
One common concern among residents involved in extended periods of research is that clinical skills will atrophy. To safeguard against this, ACES residents maintain their clinical acumen by taking senior call as well as liver transplant call at the standard CA3 frequency. This effectively provides the ACES resident with the best of both worlds: the ability to develop new skill-sets as a budding physician scientist while maintaining the clinical skills that were learned over the preceding two years. Moreover, the complexity of our cases at Duke highlights the many known and unknown variables that influence patient outcomes. Not only do these clinical experiences help to generate new research ideas and perspectives, it more closely emulates the daily life of a working physician scientist.
I am extremely grateful for the unique opportunities afforded by the Duke ACES program as well as its flexible nature. Care is certainly taken to individually guide each ACES resident with respect to unique interests and talents as he/she navigates a successful career in academic medicine. I am confident that this innovative program will help me reach my own goals as I strive to become a successful physician scientist in anesthesiology, critical care and perioperative medicine.