When one is making a career choice in medical school, many issues must be considered. What area of medicine am I most interested in and suited for? What do I expect from a career in medicine? These questions are first and foremost when making a lifelong career choice. However, these questions are only the beginning. Once the decision to pursue a career in anesthesiology is made, one must consider where best to gain the knowledge and skills required to being competent and successful. This is the decision one makes when choosing a residency program.
Numerous factors should be weighed when making a decision about where to take one's residency. The prospective resident should look at the residency program's ability to provide a wide variety of cases with the chance to develop the skills necessary to practice safely after graduation. Do the faculty take an active role in both the clinical supervision and the didactic teaching of the residents? Do the faculty come from a wide variety of backgrounds and bring varied approaches to the learning environment? Is the latest technology available to the residents and staff for use in both education and patient care?
Finally, the prospective resident should look at the environment as a whole. After starting a residency, one will become immersed in that environment for three years. One should try to ascertain if the residents are basically happy with their career choice and their training.
The focus in medical practice in the early 1990s was almost entirely on primary care with a decrease in the need for specialty care physicians. This focus has now made a remarkable turnaround. The American public has let managed care know in no uncertain terms that they expect specialty care, physician access and treatment. This has been reflected by the steady increase in fourth-year medical students entering residencies in specialty care.
The match results for the last several years reveal a steady increase in recruitment to anesthesiology. Anesthesiology attracted 5.5% of the total number of match candidates last year. These results show that anesthesiology has continued to maintain its desirability as a specialty choice. Since there is still a shortage of anesthesiologists nationwide this increase bodes well for the specialty in general.
All these factors combine to make anesthesiology one of the most sought after residencies in medicine. The changes that were seen in the 1990s have predictably produced a significant shortage of qualified anesthesiologists in the United States. The job market continues to be strong. These factors combine to provide exciting opportunities for graduating residents. Having the backing of KU Anesthesiology Department's Alumni Referral Network is a great asset when the time comes for seeking job opportunities. While many of our graduates have stayed in the Midwest and we actively recruit our graduates, numerous former residents have moved to other areas of the country to practice. They are an important source of job opportunities for our residents and continue to keep in close contact with the Department for information concerning new graduates.
Making a decision about what to do with the rest of your career will always be a daunting task. However, if you ask the proper questions, answer them thoughtfully and research them carefully, many exciting opportunities will lie ahead for the future.
1 Alan Grogono, American Society of Anesthesiologists NEWSLETTER
2 American Society of Anesthesiologists Home Page: www.ASAhq.org