I first learned about Barnes-Jewish Hospital while working on my MBA in England and conducting a literature search about process improvement in hospitals. At that point, I knew very little about Washington University in St. Louis besides its medical school, and even less about Barnes-Jewish.
When I began searching for residency programs a year later, Washington University in St. Louis remained in my mind. I knew I wanted to find a place where I could continue pursuing my interests, including healthcare delivery and process improvement, and thus the ongoing work at Barnes-Jewish was intriguing to me. I wanted to train at an institution with broad and varied research programs, because the faculty in the department would have academic backgrounds and value teaching. I found the Anesthesiology Department at Washington University in St. Louis had very active clinical and basic science research components. I also wanted to be a part of a program with a diverse and deep range of patients and cases.
When I first stepped off the plane in St. Louis for my interview, I wasn’t sure what to expect. During my initial interactions with the residents, I was immediately struck by their enthusiasm for their program and their camaraderie with each other. It was apparent that the anesthesiology department here was genuinely invested in the residents’ experiences, and that went above and beyond providing the residents with a good learning environment. The program worked hard to ensure that all of the rotations, both within the department and those spent with other departments, were valuable and effective. The department also encouraged their residents to have a balanced life away from work, as well.
The City of St. Louis also surprised me with its diverse and varied communities. I was intrigued by the lively community around Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and the abundance of parks and museums within the city. Along the streets near the hospital there are lovely areas lined with coffee shops, restaurants, and homes--all within walking distance. Even when I first visited, I could easily imagine myself living there, and in fact many of the residents do live in this area. When I left after the interview, I found myself thinking about the places I hadn’t yet had the chance to visit and still wanted to see.
Through the course of the interview season, I found myself comparing my experiences at other institutions with my experience at Washington University in St. Louis. Did the residents seem as enthusiastic? Were the research opportunities as diverse? Was the city as livable? Eventually, when I sat down to put together my rank list, I knew in some sense that my decision was already made.
Now that I’ve joined the department, I’m already certain I’ve made the right choice. I’ve continuously been impressed by how hard the department works to assist our education and how encouraging and supportive the staff has been. I have also found great friends within my co-residents, and together, we’ve enjoyed exploring St. Louis. We’ve attended several music concerts at the Botanical Gardens and visited the Farmers Market in Soulard. Somehow, I still find that there is time to study! The transition here has been a whirlwind of a journey. I’m looking forward to the next few years of my education and fully expect it to be just as exciting and fulfilling as I had hoped.
Jennifer J. Yuan, MD, MBA