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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prepare for a residency in anesthesiology?

Matching into a competitive anesthesiology residency program such as the one at Mayo Clinic requires careful and dedicated preparation throughout medical school. No matter what specialty you choose, such preparation will help make you more confident, competent and comfortable in your practice.

Demonstrating a consistently high level of achievement throughout medical school is the best way to prepare for residency. Although we consider each application in its entirety, residency programs receive very little objective data about applicants with the exception of class rank and USMLE or COMLEX scores.

Therefore, it's very important to work hard and excel throughout medical school to be well-prepared for board exams and demonstrate a high level of achievement in your coursework.

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How competitive is the Anesthesiology Residency?

Anesthesiology continues to be a highly competitive field, and the applicant pool seems to get stronger each year. The National Resident Matching Program provides residency match data every year. This is probably the best resource to evaluate the characteristics of applicants to each specialty area.

The dean's letter often provides valuable information about your performance throughout medical school. Significant weight is placed on your consistently high performance throughout medical school, as reflected on your dean's letter.

During your clinical clerkship years, in addition to earning good evaluations, you should carefully consider every specialty you rotate through, including anesthesiology. This way, you will make a more informed decision to enter into anesthesiology, which will be reflected in your personal statement and reference letters.

If your medical school permits away rotations, a visiting fourth-year clerkship at Mayo Clinic is an excellent way for you to learn about the program and for us to get to know you.

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How competitive is anesthesiology at Mayo?

The popularity and demand for anesthesiology as a career has ballooned over the past few years, making it one of the most competitive fields in medicine. Mayo has consistently been one of the more competitive programs in the country. Although good board scores and high academic achievement are important, we consider many other factors when determining our final rank order list.

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What is a good strategy for planning fourth-year electives?

Often, medical students are not exposed to anesthesiology until the fourth year of medical school. If your school does not offer third-year required or elective anesthesiology rotations, sign up for a fourth-year elective as soon as you can in your fourth year. While on other rotations, such as surgery, it's not out of the question to spend some time with the anesthesia team — but don't do this at the expense of your surgical rotation. Anesthesiologists are very accommodating to students.

Other helpful fourth-year electives once you've decided to pursue anesthesiology include cardiology, pulmonary medicine, nephrology and critical care (surgical ICU).

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Do I need to do a fourth-year anesthesiology elective at Mayo?

Although a rotation with us is not necessary either for applying to the program or to eventually match into the program (all other factors being equal), we strongly believe that personal and professional interactions with potential candidates makes it much easier for our faculty to evaluate you beyond "the numbers." Additionally, it puts a face to the data sheet!

This also gives you the opportunity to explore our program in more depth. After spending a month in our department, we are confident that you will discover what a great place Mayo is to train and potentially practice professionally. See the Visiting Medical Student Clerkship Program for more information on setting up an elective with our department.

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When should I do a rotation at Mayo?

The best months to do electives with us are August through November. July is not the best time, as we have new trainees who we are orienting to the operating rooms. If you can do a fourth-year elective in May or June prior to starting your fourth year, you'll probably find even more learning opportunities. You are welcome to do a rotation anytime of the year.

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Do I need to take USMLE Step 2?

A Step 2 score is not required prior to applying to Mayo. However, if your Step 1 score is less than stellar, a good score on Step 2 will definitely strengthen your application.

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What if I'm really 'average'?

At Mayo, we consider each applicant based on all merits. Let us make the decision about how good you are!

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What if I'm from an osteopathic school?

Mayo has had several residents, and even faculty members, with D.O. degrees. We consider each applicant based on all merits. It's beneficial, though not mandatory, if you take the USMLE exams.

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What if I want to switch from another residency?

Although we do not reserve residency slots for current residents in other programs, we will consider outstanding applicants wishing to switch to anesthesiology. For more information, contact our education coordinator.

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Do you participate in ERAS?

Yes. We require USMLE Step 1 scores from all applicants. However, Step 2 may be completed even after the interview. Nonetheless, completion of USMLE Step 1 and of Step 2 CS and CK is mandatory prior to matriculation into the residency program for PGY-1.

Further, Mayo requires that residents pass Step 3 before beginning the PGY-2 (CA-1) year.

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Do you accept international medical graduates? What visas do you sponsor?

We accept well-qualified international medical graduates through the match process. Mayo Clinic may sponsor J-1 or H-1B visas, depending on the situation. Contact Ann H. Lance in our international office at 507-284-2915 for more information.

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How many applications do you receive each year?

We receive 650 to 700 applications each year. We typically interview about 130 of these applicants.

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When will you be conducting interviews?

We conduct interviews from the end of October through December. Our interview process is one day only and is designed to familiarize the applicant with current residents, the department and staff, Mayo Clinic's facilities, and the city of Rochester.

Candidates typically arrive the day prior and are taken to dinner by a group of current residents, along with spouses and significant others. Interviews and tours of the campus are held in the morning of the following workday and are typically finished by 2:30 p.m.

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Do you reimburse travel expenses for the interview process?

Mayo does not reimburse candidates for transportation or incidental costs incurred during the interview process. However, all candidates are provided a hotel room for up to two nights close to campus, and their spouses or significant others are hosted at a dinner with residents the evening prior to the interview. Applicants also have lunch with residents on the day of the interview.

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What is a preliminary year, and will I need to apply for one?

A preliminary year (internship) is your first postgraduate year (PGY-1). Residents in the anesthesiology program would have typically completed PGY-1 training in medicine (internal medicine preliminary year), though a preliminary year training in surgery or in a "transitional" program (mix of medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and critical care) is acceptable.

Some of our anesthesia residents will have completed their PGY-1 training at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester ("categorical" residents), while others join the residency program having completed their PGY-1 training elsewhere ("advanced" residents). For more information, contact our education coordinator.

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What preliminary year opportunities are offered at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota?

Mayo offers a limited number of preliminary year spots in internal medicine. Our department typically has 10 residents who complete their internship (preliminary year) via this route. If you know you want to do all four years at Mayo, you can also apply separately to the Internal Medicine Preliminary Residency. If you match into our advanced program, you can then possibly match into preliminary medicine.

The only downside with this strategy is that if you don't match into our anesthesiology program, you could still match into the preliminary medicine program. If you want to be considered for preliminary medicine positions, just let us know. (You aren't required to interview with the internal medicine department.) The Department of Surgery also offers preliminary surgery spots.

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Do I need to match with my PGY-1 year and my first year of anesthesia at the same time?

Yes. If you are only applying for categorical positions, then you are matching for all four years automatically. If you are applying to some advanced programs, you will need to also apply for a PGY-1 year. It's a good idea to apply to both categorical and advanced anesthesiology positions if a department offers both. This increases your chances of matching into that program.

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What is the call schedule like?

The call schedule varies between hospitals; the average is every four to six nights, with the following day off. Intensive care and obstetric anesthesia rotations tend to be the most frequent, but are no more than every third night.

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Why should I choose to train at Mayo Clinic?

The answer to this question is not simple and can be best answered during your visit to our department. There are many great anesthesiology residency programs. What sets our program apart is the opportunity to learn how to "sit" anesthetics and also how to medically direct them. Our department has a long history of practicing in the anesthesia care team model, and our residents benefit greatly from this stability.

Some of the other benefits include:

  • Diverse clinical experience
  • Comprehensive didactic component
  • Board certification pass rate that far exceeds the national average
  • Generous travel policy
  • Ideal mix between clinical responsibilities, didactics and time for reading
  • Supportive ancillary staff
  • Extensive research opportunities
  • Opportunity to establish relationships with leaders in the field
  • Focus on mentoring and development of all residents
  • Opportunities to participate in advocacy
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Will CRNAs interfere with my education?

The Department of Anesthesiology has practiced in the anesthesia care team model since the beginning of our training program. Because we don't rely on the residents as a primary workforce, trainees are able to attend didactic sessions, participate in rotations outside of the operating room, participate in scholarly activity and present their work at national meetings.

In this regard, the nurse anesthetists contribute significantly to our training program. In the anesthesia care team model, they also allow for our residents to learn the invaluable skill of medical direction.

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How is the relationship between surgeons and anesthesiologists?

Mayo strongly believes in the team approach to patient care. Surgical and anesthesia teams work hand in hand at every location. Mutual respect among all health care providers is expected at Mayo.

We strive for excellent communication between surgical and anesthesia teams to ensure patient safety and good outcomes. Quarterly quality and safety conferences are conducted for the entire house of surgery, including anesthesia personnel, surgeons, allied health staff and nurses. The team approach and emphasis on open communication is a significant component of these conferences.

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How can I get good anesthesia training at a place that only sees 'zebras'?

This is a common misconception among resident applicants from outside Mayo. Although Mayo Clinic has an international reputation and provides care to patients from a number of countries, Mayo Clinic is also the referral center for all of southeastern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and North Dakota and South Dakota.

Mayo is also the primary caregiver for all of southeastern Minnesota. In fact, a majority of Mayo patients are from the U.S., and a significant fraction of those are from the Midwest.

Trainees get extensive experience caring for routine patients but also have the opportunity to care for patients with complex problems. Graduates from the program will not be surprised with anything they see in their future practice.

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What types of patients will I see in a week working in the operating rooms?

We take care of patients who can be classified as American Society of Anesthesiologists physical class I (otherwise healthy) to class V (extremely sick and unlikely to survive long).

Residents may provide anesthesia for young, healthy patients requiring minor surgery (such as cast application or removal, and plastics) all the way to a "crashing" thoracoabdominal aneurysm. During the course of residency training, residents are exposed to the entire gamut of patients, and with repetition.

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Do you see enough trauma?

Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus, is a Level 1 Trauma Center and a Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center. Although most of our trauma is blunt trauma, we do see a fair number of penetrating trauma cases. Our graduates are well-prepared to manage all types of trauma cases. In fact, blunt trauma is frequently much more difficult to manage than penetrating trauma.

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Are residents involved in resuscitations?

Anesthesia residents are an integral part of the hospital resuscitation teams. Even during certain rotations of the preliminary year, interns may participate in "codes" throughout the hospital. During the clinical anesthesia years, residents on specific rotations and all CA-2 residents are integral members of the code teams and the rapid response teams.

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How is your pediatric experience?

The pediatric surgical caseload has increased significantly at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus over the last decade. Residents always exceed minimum ACGME case requirements for pediatric cases.

To further enhance resident experience in pediatric anesthesia, residents have the opportunity to do elective rotations at Nemours Children's Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. This is a free-standing pediatric hospital affiliated with Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida.

Additionally, the department is accredited for two pediatric anesthesia fellowship positions. Pediatric anesthesiologists are integral in the pediatric critical care practice as well as the ECMO practice.

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Is high-fidelity simulation a big part of your curriculum?

Mayo Clinic has a 10,000-square-foot Multidisciplinary Simulation Center. Although several other specialties participate in activities in the simulation center, the medical director of the center is an anesthesiologist.

The Department of Anesthesiology recently made significant changes to the simulation curriculum. Residents spend three to four half-day sessions in the simulation center each academic year. The curriculum is designed to be progressively more challenging as residents move through the program. Our faculty members conduct several ABA simulation sessions for MOCA each year.

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Can you do rotations at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Florida and Arizona?

Yes. Refer to Curriculum for more information.

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Do residents get enough teaching? If so, does it come mainly from other residents or do the faculty teach as well?

Teaching is a top priority of our residency. Besides clinical teaching in the operating rooms and ICUs, our faculty members are extremely committed to the didactic curriculum. The program has both basic and advanced curricula that are coordinated through two different faculty members.

Our residents routinely score above the 90th percentile as a class on the ABA In-Training Examination. This is likely a reflection of the strong clinical and didactic teaching in the program.

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Where do your residents go after graduating?

Many of our graduates elect to return to their home states after their training. Therefore, it should be no surprise that we have 50 states represented among our alumni. We also recruit a fair number into our practices in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida.

Although it varies from year to year, approximately half of our graduates pursue fellowship training. Last academic year, 17 of our 18 residents pursued fellowships.

Our graduates are equally prepared to enter private practice and academics. Overall, approximately one-third of our graduates end up pursuing an academic career. Of those in private practice, many of them are leading their groups or hospital organizations.

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Do you have a book fund?

Yes. All anesthesia residents are allowed to purchase books or journal subscriptions not to exceed a total of $1,000 over three years of residency.

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Are there other educational resources available?

Mayo Clinic has an extensive library system with many e-books and electronic journals available to trainees. The department also has an extensive website that has many helpful clinical tools.

Residents receive an iPad when they start the program. Many use these for reading electronic books and question databases. The department also records all core curriculum lectures and makes them available to residents in the program through iTunes U. If you match into a preliminary program outside of Mayo, you will also have access to the iTunes U lectures.

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Can residents travel to meetings during training?

Residents are allowed one attendance trip during their training. Additionally, residents who are productive can take several presentation trips each academic year. The department also supports every resident in attendance at the ASA practice management meeting and the ASA legislative conference at least once during training.

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What is there to do in Rochester, Minnesota?

Here is what some of our residents have to say about activities in Rochester:

"Rochester has a great trail system for running and biking, and hunting and fishing are abundant. We are only one hour from Minneapolis-St. Paul. The Mayo Civic Center hosts several well-known artists for concerts."

"Rochester is a beautiful city full of recreational activities. There are trails running all over the city for walking, jogging, biking and rollerblading. I'm told that there are a lot of cross-country skiing opportunities in the winter. There are many parks and public golf courses. There are movie theaters (for which Mayo has discounted tickets available), bowling alleys and some decent shopping. There is an amateur baseball team, the Honkers, that plays at Mayo Field, as well as other sporting events."

"It's Minnesota, so there are several lakes relatively close by for fishing, camping and boating. There are many good restaurants in Rochester. The Twin Cities are about 90 minutes away with every major league sporting event, amusement parks and more (again, Mayo offers discounted tickets)."

"The Olmsted County Fair is held in Rochester at the end of July, and there are Sunday night concerts in July and August that are free. They try to get up-and-coming bands for these concerts. Bottom line is, there are lots of fun and interesting activities in Rochester. Sometimes, it just means trying new things!"

Find out more about Rochester campus life.

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What fellowships do you offer?

We offer fellowships in critical care, pain management, cardiothoracic anesthesia, pediatric anesthesia, neuroanesthesia, regional anesthesia and clinical informatics. See a full list of anesthesiology-related fellowships.

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  • Oct 23, 2015
  • ART710465