Uju Momah, MSIII, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Last month I had the opportunity to complete an elective in anesthesia. This was my first real experience in the field. Outside of shadowing doctors in anesthesia or working alongside anesthesiologists on my third year clinical rotations, I was excited for the chance to finally get my hands dirty and explore more about this field. My experience was everything that I hoped for and more. I quickly discovered that there’s much more to anesthesia than “putting people to sleep.” There is pre-surgical management and perioperative care; there’s regional anesthesia; there’s pain management; and the list goes on and on. During my time on my rotation, I had the opportunity to work between the PACU and the OR. I helped with conducting pre-surgical evaluations, performing regional ultrasounds and nerve blocks, learning about intubation, helping with epidurals, as well as with induction and emergence from anesthesia. I came to quickly appreciate the dynamic work that anesthesiologists do. In many ways it is a balancing act – a balance between understanding and applying the cerebral concepts of medicine with the intricate and procedural skills of surgery. You must be quick on your feet and quick with your hands, all while never losing focus on the task at hand.
One aspect of the rotation that I especially appreciated was the connection forged between the anesthesiologists and their patients. With the intense nature of surgery, one might think that there is limited opportunity to get to know patients. However, such notions were quickly dispelled by many of the anesthesiologists that I worked with. They took the time to get to know their patients during their pre-operative evaluations, calm any fears that they may have had about their surgery, reassure them that they would be taken care of, and answer any lingering questions. I was impressed by how quickly they were able to gain their patients’ trust and calm their anxieties, as this was often integral to proceeding forward with each case.
As I reflect back on my rotation, I am so happy that I had the opportunity to do this in my third year. Because of my positive experience, I am very much looking forward to the chance to do a sub-internship in anesthesia during my fourth year. To be continued!