Welcome from the Chair and Program Director
Welcome to the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit our website. One of the biggest challenges I encounter in trying to recruit residents into our program is getting people to know that we even exist! Wichita, Kansas, is not necessarily thought of as a destination city, so it sometimes fails to show up on the radar of prospective applicants. I am here to tell you that Wichita should be your destination city if you plan to pursue an anesthesiology residency.
Our program is a medium-sized, ACGME accredited residency with five residents per year. We have an excellent transitional year that includes experiences in critical care, surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, cardiology, nephrology and other elective rotations. To prepare interns for anesthesia, we incorporate a block of perioperative medicine in the second half of the year. During this rotation, they learn how to perform anesthesia focused preoperative evaluations and optimize patients for surgery. The last block of the intern year involves an intense immersion on an anesthesiology rotation during which all five interns rotate together. In addition to learning how to begin performing clinical anesthesia, they receive a crash course in basic anesthesia principles taught by their senior colleagues and attendings. This experience allows them to enter the CA-1 year feeling very confident.
The CA-1 year includes four months of general anesthesia rotations, an ICU rotation, a research rotation, and a combination of specialty rotations in the second half of the year including difficult airway management, post anesthesia care, acute pain, pediatric anesthesia, obstetric anesthesia and introduction to cardiovascular anesthesia. During the research rotation, residents have dedicated time to work with Will Krogman, our research associate, to prepare a case for presentation at the Midwest Anesthesia Resident Conference. Residents can also initiate a research project or join a research project already in progress. The majority of our research is clinical in nature, but bench research is an option due to our relationship with the local university. This month is also used for completion of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement modules on patient safety and quality improvement. Since the new ABA board examination process involves the Basic Exam during the CA-1 year, I organize the didactic schedule to create directed study time for them during the weeks prior to the exam.
The CA-2 year is perhaps the most challenging year as it involves several specialty rotations. The residents are given an increasing amount of autonomy, and expectations are elevated. I have organized the rotation schedule to try and maximize the learning experience during that year. It is during this year that residents obtain nearly all of their required case counts. Also, during the CA-2 year, our residents are offered a unique opportunity to attend a national oral board prep course, "Ultimate Board Prep," which is designed and taught by one of our own faculty members. This course is free of charge to our residents.
The CA-3 year includes seven blocks of required complex rotations along with six blocks of elective rotations. In particular, we provide an "OR Manager" block during which the resident runs the entire schedule at our main hospital. They have to manage residents, nurse anesthetists and anesthesia attending assignments while learning to prioritize and delegate responsibilities.
On a yearly basis, I make adjustments to our rotation and didactic schedules based on a number of factors including resident feedback, In-Training Exam scores, case volume, and core faculty feedback among other things. The overall number of adjustments has become fewer each year as I have been able to fine-tune the learning experience for residents at all levels and take advantage of the teaching strengths of our core faculty members. One of my jobs as the leader of this residency is to try and bring out the absolute best in every resident and every faculty member. I stress a team-oriented approach for our entire group of residents. The expectation for participation in activities and completion of duties is the same for all levels. I empower all senior residents to teach their junior colleagues as well as set the example for work ethic and the expectation for how this residency runs. I tell every applicant who interviews and every resident who is eventually selected that I desire hard-working, unselfish, team players to join this residency.
I strive to provide a balance between clinical and didactic learning, and time away from work. Our residents rarely work more than 60 hours per week, including their didactic learning. Furthermore, I schedule all didactics in the afternoon to avoid forcing residents to rush through a morning lecture in order to prepare for a case. This ensures residents are relieved of clinical duties at a consistent time each day. I promise to prepare everyone to pass boards and to confidently enter a fellowship or a clinical practice immediately upon completing this program. First-time board pass rates for residents graduating from this program are greater than 96% for the last 10 years. Furthermore, our blend of academic medicine in a private practice setting allows our residents to become accustomed to the fast pace and relationship-building required in private practice versus academic medicine. On the other hand, many of our residents go on to do fellowship training in a variety of subspecialties. I strongly encourage the pursuit of fellowship training and have been very successful helping our residents secure top choices in their desired fellowship.
Wichita is a great community. It is very safe and family friendly. The school districts are outstanding. Traffic congestion is never a problem, and Wichita has an ultra-modern airport that provides easy access for travel in and out of Wichita. I hope you consider making Wichita your destination for anesthesiology residency training.
James Walker, M.D.
Chair and Program Director
Medical Director, Neurocritical Care & Stroke