One minute after opening my letter on Match Day, I was asked by a local television station (it was a slow news day), “What does this mean to you?” My answer, “It means that I will be working with the people that I want to work with, where I want to work.” I am thrilled to say that my experiences at Barnes have only reaffirmed my answer.
As I was on the interview trail for residency, I had my wish list: 1) Excellent clinical training, 2) Opportunities and commitment by the department to research, 3) Evidence of interdepartmental collaboration, and 4) Welcoming community for my family. What drew me to Barnes then and continues to draw me now is that very few programs nationally have all of these attributes, and no other program has continued to recommit to these core strengths as vigorously as Barnes.
The foundation of the clinical training begins during the integrated intern year with non-anesthesiology rotations (surgery, internal medicine, and emergency medicine) and anesthesiology sponsored rotations (pre-op clinic, simulation, ICU’s, and anesthesiology). This particular balance serves to provide breadth, while also ensuring that participants are still well integrated into the department. This particular balance also has the immediate benefit of reinforcing the collegiality in the ORs and the floors: Once I finished intern year, I had friends in many departments and an appreciation for their clinical practices. Even when I rotated to other departments, the department continually kept me abreast of clinical, research, and social opportunities, whether it was the monthly presentations by the other Scholar and ASAP residents, or the monthly social gathering at the end of a rotation.
From a research perspective, some of the most invigorating experiences for research track interns arise from interactions with your research mentor. Throughout the rigorous first year, I was also made aware of research opportunities that were well aligned with my interests. This allowed me to integrate my continued interests in research with my clinical experiences. As an ASAP resident, this exposure continued to accelerate throughout the year with a meeting at the end of the year, which both formally evaluated my clinical progress and evaluated the opportunities that the department could make available to me as I continue to expand upon my research endeavors. The commitment of the department was palpable as senior leadership and my mentor worked with me to evaluate the next steps (within the week I was contacted by additional labs and my future clinical mentor about opportunities to round out my experience prior to my advanced years in the program).
While I had appreciated the interdepartmental nature of the research performed by the anesthesia department during my interview experience (with cross disciplinary research in critical care, radiology, surgery, neuroscience, and in my particular case engineering), I had not fully appreciated the breadth of the connections and commitment until the additional opportunities from the end of internship meeting were made apparent with multiple labs from the primary Washington University campus were offered. Coming from a non-traditional background such as engineering, I continue to find the collaborative nature of the anesthesia department at Washington University invigorating in a way that can only continue to foster innovative research and collegiality.
This collegiality is a primary aspect of the training at Washington University/Barnes that set this department apart from the other residency programs that I considered. Simply, the people that I met when I interviewed, whether residents, fellows, or attendings, were the people I wanted to work with and aspire to become. This did not end with my peers and future peers but this also extended to their significant others as they have welcomed my wife and family to Saint Louis. The welcoming started with the housing search and has continued through selecting school districts and playgroups for my children.
In short, Washington University is continuing to offer me collaborative clinical and research opportunities with continued departmental support for me and my family both inside and outside of the hospital.
-Broc A. Burke, MD, PhD
B.S. Aerospace Engineering, University of Kansas
M.S. Aero/Astro Engineering, Stanford University
PhD, Biomedical Engineering, Dartmouth College
MD, Dartmouth Medical School