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What is it like to train in the University of Utah Anesthesiology Residency Program? Imagine learning from an exceptionally gifted faculty of 70 with interests ranging from the mechanisms of action of anesthesia to health care policy development. Imagine doing 500 clinical cases a year in a variety of surgical disciplines and practice settings. Imagine training in a city located in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains with affordable housing and outstanding recreational opportunities.

The anesthesiology residency program at the University of Utah School of Medicine is based at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City.  It is the only anesthesiology residency training program in the Mountain West, an area encompassing 10 percent of the continental United States. Although the program has trained many of the anesthesiologists currently practicing in the Rocky Mountain States, our graduates are currently in private and academic practice throughout the nation and abroad. This widespread network of alumni is especially useful to our residents as they pursue their career opportunities.

The mission of our training program is to train physicians to become highly qualified anesthesiologists as well as leaders in our specialty. Our curriculum is designed with resident education foremost in mind. Our residents average 500 cases per year, covering the complete range of specialties and practice locations. They work under close supervision of our faculty to ensure that each patient encounter is a learning experience. Thus, when they complete their training at the University of Utah, our resident graduates are in a position to assume the responsibilities of any type of anesthesia practice.

The clinical facilities employed for training are first rate. Our academic medical center, University of Utah Health, is a state-of-the-art, 567 bed facility. It contains a newly remodeled and expanded operating suite of 18 operating rooms where we provide nearly 25,000 anesthetics per year plus an obstetrical suite with 3500 deliveries. Huntsman Cancer Hospital (HCH) is a state-of-the-art center of excellence and is immediately adjacent to the main hospital with eight additional operating rooms. All of these operating rooms have an advanced computerized anesthesia information and record keeping system.

Other nearby University facilities include University Orthopaedic Center (UUOC), John A. Moran Eye Center at University of Utah, our Pain Management Center, and Pain Research Center. The pain management team includes fellowship-trained anesthesiologists, neurologists, physiatrists, psychologists, physical therapists, and advanced practice nurses. Our residents rotate through Surgical Intensive Care at U of U Health where they have hands-on training in the latest advances in critical care medicine.

Other hospitals in our training program include Primary Children’s Hospital, the only full-service pediatric hospital in the Mountain West; the Shriners’ Hospital; the George E. Wahlen Veterans’ Administration Medical Center; and the Intermountain Medical Center.

The Department has a computerized patient simulator staffed by physician anesthesiologists who provide patient simulations to enhance resident education. Here, our residents receive training and have the opportunity to practice their skills in managing life-threatening events without any danger to patients.

Our first-year anesthesia residents (CA1) develop their clinical skills by training at the main University Hospital, HCH, UUOC, and at the VA Medical Center. Most also do some obstetric anesthesia and critical care in their first year. In addition, one month of research experience is provided between months six and 18 of the residency. The second year (CA2) is largely devoted to subspecialty training, including cardiac, neurosurgical, pediatric, obstetric anesthesia, as well as chronic pain management, and critical care medicine. Regional anesthesia is also stressed with two months dedicated to peripheral nerve blockade and acute pain management. The third year (CA3) focuses on complex anesthetic management including transplantation, perioperative echocardiography and elective opportunities. These electives may include additional training in pediatric, cardiac, obstetric, or other subspecialty anesthesia as well as administrative and teaching electives or global health endeavors. For those interested, significant research experience is readily available during the third year.

Educational activities include:

  • weekly:
    • grand rounds consisting of:
      • didactic sessions
      • quality improvement seminars
      • visiting professor lectures
    • perioperative echocardiography course
    • simulation sessions
    • mock oral examinations
    • research meetings
    • ‘key-word’ revision sessions
  • monthly journal club
  • daily in-operating room individualized instruction.

For the last 10 years, our In-Training Examination scores have ranked between the 75th and 90th percentile of programs in the country. Our anesthesiology board certification rate is greater than 95 percent.

Our program’s reputation has allowed us to gather a high-quality faculty that provides exemplary patient care while engaging in important, nationally renowned research. They have been recruited from many institutions across the United States, thus bringing different perspectives to our residents’ education. Our Department ranks consistently in the top 25 among all departments in funding from the National Institute of Health. The research interests of our faculty are as diversified as their educational backgrounds. For residents interested in research, there are many opportunities to do so. The Department has three dedicated basic science laboratories, as well as several sites for clinical studies. In addition, the Department has a very active bioengineering division headed by a nationally renowned scientist, Kai Kuck, PhD. Resident participation in research is strongly encouraged and residents are given travel money to present their work at national meetings. Second and third year residents are financially supported to attend a one-week national meeting. Approximately 20 percent of our graduates pursue careers in academic medicine.

Salaries and benefits are competitive and rank in the top 25 percent of programs nationally. Averaged over all the rotations, in house “call” is about every ninth night. On some rotations the call is more frequent and on others there is no in-house call. Duties are not assigned after in-house call to allow for rest and recovery.

Salt Lake City is a clean, friendly metropolitan area of 2.2 million people. Selected as the host city for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Salt Lake City has outstanding recreational facilities located within the city limits. A total of 9 world-class ski resorts are located within a 50-mile radius of Salt Lake City, and Utah is justifiably known to have “the Greatest Snow on Earth.”

In addition to the winter sport activities, Salt Lake City is a center for outdoor recreation year-round. Numerous streams challenge the fly fisherman and the kayaker. There are a multitude of alpine trails for hiking, backpacking, trail-running and mountain biking. There are 35 golf courses within an hour’s drive of the city and 15 national parks and monuments within an easy day’s drive. Golf and tennis are available throughout the metropolitan area. Spectator sports are also popular, with the NBA’s Utah Jazz, Major League Soccer Real Salt Lake, Minor League Baseball Salt Lake Bees, and the University of Utah’s “Utes” drawing large crowds of enthusiastic supporters. Cultural activities are available throughout Salt Lake City, including nationally acclaimed Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, the Utah Ballet, Salt Lake Repertory Theatre and numerous restaurants, bars and museums. Salt Lake City has an affordable cost of living and relatively plentiful rental housing.

Now that we’ve sketched something about our training program and surrounding area, we hope that you will want to know more. We look forward to hearing from you.

Congratulations on your selection of anesthesiology as a career, and best wishes to you as you pursue residency training.

Elizabeth M. Thackeray, MD

Director, Residency Program, Department of Anesthesiology

Talmage D. Egan, MD

Professor, Chair, Department of Anesthesiology


Talmage D. Egan, MD

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Elizabeth M. Thackeray, MD

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