The Residency Experience
A Day in the Life
Mara Semel, M.D. – CA-2
One of the reasons I chose Mass General was because out of all of the superb teaching hospitals in the Boston area, Mass General is the only program that allows residents to experience all kinds of cases in-house. We are the only program in the city that has liver, lung and heart transplants, pediatrics, obstetrics, an active acute and chronic pain program, cardiac, thoracic, vascular, regional, critical care and ambulatory all under one roof. While it is wonderful and encouraged to rotate at other hospitals to learn another way of doing things, being able to experience the full depth and breadth of anesthesia "at home" is a really special experience to have as a resident. Our faculty are so outstanding and care so much about us and our educational experience; getting to learn from them on all types of anesthetics is a privilege. It is part of what I feel is the unique Mass General experience. And having learned the basics about obstetrics and pediatrics at home prior to venturing out to the Longwood area for away rotations helped me make the most of those outside hospital experiences. I was able to focus less on the basics of administering obstetric or pediatric anesthesia, and instead learn the different techniques and approaches used by our friends across town. This helped me step up my game to a higher level, pushed me to consider different approaches to my anesthetic management plans, and made me a more well-rounded clinician overall. I never would have felt as comfortable rotating elsewhere, or learned as much as I did, if I hadn't already had a solid base of knowledge from my time at Mass General. You just cannot beat Mass General in terms of breadth of experience, depth of learning, case complexity and variety.
George M. Hanna, M.D. – CA-3
At Mass General, we are given the opportunity to care for patients with rare and complex diseases, frequently undergoing challenging and high-risk surgeries, under the tutelage of world-renown leaders in anesthesiology, critical care and pain medicine. Unique to Mass General, senior residents are given extensive opportunity to supervise junior residents, manage cases and schedule operating room workflow during evening hours while on call. It is up to the senior resident to ensure a smooth transition in resource management and OR personnel, while prioritizing urgent and emergent case starts (usually supervising a more junior trainee). This prepares us for the real world, and allows us to function as "pseudo-attendings" during the concluding months of our training. Additionally, it gives us a chance to work together and allow for education and teaching between senior and junior trainees the mutual respect and comradery is amazing. As a CA-3, I feel like I've been functioning as an attending for quite some time this is how you want to feel at the end of your residency.
Scott G. Pritzlaff, M.D. – CA-1
"I chose Mass General for its world-class faculty and unsurpassed hands-on education. From day one, new residents are encouraged to try different techiques and approaches with each case. Our caseload is diverse and challenging, but I can already see how this will pay dividends in the years to come."
Stephen D. Wilkins, M.D. – CA-2
"My experience at Mass General has been amazing. During my first year, I had the privilege to learn the basics of anesthesia from some of the premier leaders in the field. The learning curve was incredibly steep, and I soon found myself managing some of the most exciting cases in anesthesia, including liver and heart transplants. Complex cases are definitely the standard at MGH, and I never find myself in an intellectual monotony. The outstanding faculty combined with these types of cases makes for an incredible learning experience. Additionally, I have found that research opportunities and attendance at anesthesia conferences are encouraged and fully supported by the department but never imposed. After all of my experiences thus far, I could not be happier with my decision to join the anesthesia team at Mass General. "
Todd E. Novak, M.D.
“The days are full. We can have up to five cases a day at the Main operating room, making for a busy and rewarding day. I was exposed to many complicated cases very early as a new resident. I learned quickly. As I progressed, I became more comfortable. At Mass General, we enjoy excellent working relationships with surgeons and with the surgical residents. The nursing staff is great. After a while, the nursing staff gets to know you and there is an ease of working together. We all work together it’s a great environment.”
Kristin Adams, M.D.
“I arrive at 6 in the morning at the surgical intensive care unit (ICU), which is run by the DACCPM, and round on all of my patients. After making sure my patients are progressing, I attend a morning lecture presented by one of the staff or fellows on a topic of his or her choice. By 7:30 a.m. the entire team meets the resident, the fellow and the attending physician and I present the information I have gathered about my patients on rounds. At noon, we have a luncheon lecture for an hour, which may include lectures from the respiratory therapists, journal club, or M&M conference. The afternoons are a time for work to be done, including placement of lines, discharges, or preparation for admissions. As residents, we are given a tremendous amount of responsibility. We are also supported every inch of the way. It is an intense learning atmosphere. While it may be exhausting at times, it is tremendously rewarding.”
Jonathan Bloom, M.D.
“The strength of the program is in the people the program attracts. Learning takes place everywhere in the operating rooms, at the ICU bedsides, in the lecture rooms, and during informal chats with nurses, surgeons, fellows and other residents. The anesthesia department has its own room in the operating room, and it is here, when we are between cases, that some of these conversations take place. It is a charged atmosphere. There is structure and balance. Residents are exposed to very impressive professionals. We are expected to work hard and to stretch the limits of what we know. There is lots of independence, but there is also a feeling there is a safety net, too.”
Claudia Benkwitz, M.D.
“I studied and practiced anesthesia in my native Germany prior to joining Mass General. There is great diversity among the patients here from young to old, from very sick undergoing complicated surgery, to the very healthy undergoing less complicated procedures. Each case calls upon the resident to use different skills. It is true that the days are long and busy, but the days are also very satisfying. There is a friendliness and professionalism that exists among the staff, the nurses, the attending physicians, and my colleagues. I came to the Mass General residency program with a determination to continue my studies and research, specifically in pediatric anesthesia. Everyone is tremendously respectful and encouraging about my desire to eventually find my own way as a researcher.”