Studying Anesthesiology

I’m two months into my CA-1 year and only just beginning to learn how to study clinical anesthesiology. In other words, the last two months have been filled with rapid fire knowledge and on-the-spot learning interspersed with some didactic sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays – I feel like I’ve not retained anything. 🙁

Anesthesiology is a field where knowledge (physiology, pathology, and pharmacology) meets procedural techniques (placing peripheral lines, central lines, arterial lines, spinal/epidurals, regional blocks, advanced airway management). It’s hard to know exactly how to study for such a diverse field.

After casually reviewing Morgan and Mikhail’s Clinical Anesthesiology during my intern year with many failed attempts at retention (highlighting, making flashcards, etc.), I’ve decided to really buckle down and learn my trade. I only have three short years to do so!

Random day off = more studying!

My textbook of choice is Barash’s Clinical Anesthesia. Fortunately, the companion Android app makes it incredibly easy to read chapters on my tablet without having to lug this behemoth around. I’m using the American Board of Anesthesiology’s content outline as the foundation for constructing a syllabus of material relevant to our in-training exam (ITE) and basic sciences board exam. Using our didactic sessions and supplemental reading, I’ve really been keeping up with the high yield topics over the last two weeks and am seeing a tremendous benefit.

In the coming weeks, I’ll post my notes for all to use. Till then, I’m still trying to drink from the proverbial fire hose of information. Stay tuned. 🙂

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  1. Hey Rishi,

    in your post you mentioned that you would post your notes pertaining to the ITE exam; I have read almost all of your blog posts over the years and was wondering if you could link me to the notes!

    Thank you for sharing your candid insights and honesty in your posts. This blog is an invaluable resource for future students of anesthesiology.

    “In the coming weeks, I’ll post my notes for all to use. Till then, I’m still trying to drink from the proverbial fire hose of information. Stay tuned.”

  2. Hi Rishi,

    I’d love to know if you have any book recommendations for med students interested in doing an anesthesiology away rotation and hoping to shine? Thank you!

  3. Hey Rishi! Thanks for your awesome website, which I only happened upon recently, but which is already so interesting and helpful! 🙂

    I’m only a med student, but hope to get into anesthesiology someday. Any advice or tips for what to do on an anesthesiology away rotation? Like, any recommended books to read (e.g., I’ve heard the NMS anesthesiology book is a good one but it was published over a decade ago, but maybe things haven’t changed that much)? And do you think we need to be good at procedural skills, because I seriously have none or the ones I do have I really am bad at them to say the least! Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks. 🙂

    • Hi there, Pat! Thanks for your readership! =)

      While I never did any away rotations myself, I advise med students to consider it like a 30 day job interview. Play the role of a resident, get there early, stay late, ask meaningful questions, and always offer a helping hand. Residents and attendings really do notice this and relay messages to each other about potential applicants.

      At the med student level, try to really learn just the concepts behind clinical anesthesiology. Open the drug tray and look at common medications utilized in an anesthetic (dosing, mechanisms of action, indications, contraindications, etc.). When I was a med student, I put together a pamphlet with high yield topics in anesthesia – I’ll be updating this in the coming days, so stay tuned! Maybe it’ll help you?

      As far as procedural skills, please understand that they are skills which come with EXPERIENCE and people have off days no matter how good you are. I’ve had days where my attending could not get an IV or arterial line, but I did. Other days where you could see a vein from across the room but I couldn’t cannulate it. My advice is to learn the techniques first, perfect them, and rely on time to achieve success rates. Every time you miss an IV or intubation, always figure out what you did wrong and learn from it!

      Hopefully this helps a little bit. Please let me know if you have any specific questions!

      • Awesome, thanks so much Rishi! That was definitely super helpful and encouraging! 🙂 And I’ll definitely look forward to your pamphlet with HY topics in anesthesia (thanks in advance, I’m sure it’ll help tons of people)! 🙂

        I did have just one last question please, do you think during our month long away rotation, we will be asked to do lots of IVs, intubations, etc.? I’ll try to practice a lot as I don’t want to look totally incompetent, but just wondering what’s expected in a med student if I (for example) don’t do well on my procedures — will word get around among residents that I won’t be a good anesthesiologist? That’s my big fear.

        Thanks again Rishi, and I’ll keep following your really helpful and informative website!! 🙂


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