Melvin Yeung, M3 University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine
1.) What's your name? Profession? Where do you currently work?
Brian F.S. Allen, Assistant Professor and Director of the Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine fellowship, Department of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN.
2.) Where did you go for medical school? Residency? Fellowship?
I graduated from medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, completed an internship at Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, and did residency at Vanderbilt University.
My fellowship training in Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine took place at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, OR.
3.) How long have you practiced?
I have practiced anesthesiology since completing residency in 2010 with a 1- year hiatus in 2011 for fellowship.
4.) When did you know you wanted to do anesthesiology?
I struggled with the decision to go into anesthesiology or radiology. Anatomy and physiology fascinated me, especially in procedural fields such as interventional radiology or regional anesthesiology. Residency applications were due before I decided on anesthesiology, so I applied and interviewed in both fields. Fourth year medical school rotations in neuroanesthesia and cardiac anesthesia truly helped me to select anesthesiology as a career.
5.) Why did you decide to do a subspecialty in anesthesia?
While I debated going into private practice straight out of residency, I have always loved the environment of inquiry present at academic medical centers. Colleagues are always pursuing new, interesting projects. Some of the smartest clinicians around are eager to share their ideas and research in a way that sustains my own personal curiosity.
6.) What attracted you to pursue training in regional anesthesia and acute pain?
A number of aspects influenced my subspecialty choice. A love of anatomy and procedural performance led me down the path to regional anesthesiology. The field resonated well with my desire to be prepared for any clinical scenario and optimize patient recovery, safety and pain control. Stories of opioid abuse and dependence, rife in my native Tennessee, led me to do my small part in providing patients with alternatives to narcotics.
7.) Can you describe your typical work day?
My work takes me to a variety of places. I rotate between ambulatory surgery centers, the main university hospital, regional anesthesia, non-O.R. anesthesia sites, obstetric anesthesia calls, attending on the perioperative medicine service, and the inpatient acute and chronic pain services. One day is very different than the next. While on the perioperative medicine or pain services, I care for a large number of mostly surgical patients, selecting regional blocks that will help minimize pain and designing multimodal analgesic regimens to optimize recovery. I work with fellows and residents to do blocks and then follow patients onto the wards.
8.) How do you balance work and personal life?
It can be a challenge. Administrative and clinical responsibilities require time to perform well. My department has made conscious choices to allow faculty the flexibility to work more or less and be compensated accordingly.
Personally, I try to take advantage of the time I have away from work to lounge, play board games with friends, eat out or go to concerts.
9.) What's your favorite aspect of your work? Least favorite aspect?
My favorite thing is seeing someone before surgery, starting a pain regimen and doing a nerve block, then following that patient through the perioperative course where they require no opioids and have minimal pain, leaving the hospital a day early. The surprise a patient exhibits after waking up pain-free postop is stunning.
Much of managing a regional anesthesiology service is about relationships: with surgeons, colleagues, patients and other professionals. This work is often harder (and far less pleasant) than the simpler clinical work of ordering medications and performing blocks.
10.) What advice do you have for aspiring anesthesiologists?
Make sure you go to a program that focuses on education and is forward-thinking about the place of our specialty in the world. These are uncertain times for medicine, and it always helps to go to a place where clinicians and researchers are helping to define the future of our specialty. Considering a subspecialty like regional anesthesiology and acute pain medicine will broaden your skillsets and make you a more complete, well-rounded and adaptable physician.
posted spring 2017