Residency program

Our residents come from diverse backgrounds. Most come to us directly from medical school; however, some have pursued graduate study earning additional degrees (e.g., Ph.D., MBA, MPH, JD), others have conducted several years of research while others have had successful non-medical careers, and some are board certified in another medical specialty. Their non-academic interests also are very diverse ranging from being a solo violinist with a philharmonic orchestra to instructing ballroom dancers, karate and rock-climbing to being competitive athletes and gourmet chefs. However, they all come to our program with a common goal: the desire to learn to provide outstanding care to their patients in an educational environment that fosters intellectual curiosity.

Our goal is to develop in our residents the necessary knowledge, judgment and clinical skills to prepare them to be consultant anesthesiologists. Our residents achieve clinical and academic competence over four years of training by managing patients with increasingly complicated medical conditions for more and more complex surgical procedures, and by being exposed to incrementally more advanced educational materials. Our graduates are confident managing critically ill patients, from neonates to the extremely aged, undergoing all types of surgical procedures, during the pre-, intra-, and post-operative periods. Graduating residents make the transition easily from residency into either community or academic practice, and the vast majority achieves Board Certification on their first attempt.

As a resident in our program, clinical training takes place within our clinical divisions, encompassing all major subspecialties in our field, and covering a vast and diverse caseload. Residents rotating through each major clinical division stay exclusively within that area while on rotation and are taught by an attending staff dedicated to that subspecialty. This ensures an intense and focused training experience with experts who have the most up-to-date knowledge and advanced skills pertinent to the subspecialty. Each division provides its rotating residents with a set of rotation objectives tailored to their year of training, subspecialty specific reading materials, instructions on pertinent techniques, and a series of questions for self appraisal of the materials.

By the final year of training, the residents will have completed several rotations in each subspecialty area and are given the opportunity to choose electives that meet their personal goals. As a Senior Resident, they are given the opportunity to function in a leadership role as a "Team Captain" heading the overnight and weekend call team. The Team Captain arranges for and plans anesthetic management for emergency surgeries, supervises junior residents through these procedures, directs management of all Post-Anesthesia Care Unit patients, and oversees airway management in emergency nonsurgical situations for patients in the hospital and in the Emergency Room. An in-house on-call attending is always available to consult and assist with these endeavors.

The didactic training comes from daily teaching by faculty in the O.R., on the pain service, and critical care units, participating in several departmental and subdivisional rounds & conferences and from diligent study. Faculty and residents attend our departmental weekly Case Conference, Morbidity/Mortality and Quality Assurance Conference. Other regularly scheduled resident educational sessions include a Core Curriculum Lecture Series targeted to the residents’ level of training, Chiefs Rounds, a Basic Principles Course, and subspecialty seminars for residents on subspecialty rotations. Research seminars and special educational events take place throughout the year in the department. There are also many outstanding lectures throughout the Medical Center, where attendance is encouraged. We provide basic electronic textbooks at the beginning of the residency, as well as ongoing subscriptions to major journals and membership in important professional organizations. The departmental library stays up to date with books, journals and computerized materials and is accessible 24/7/365. CA1 residents are encouraged to attend the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting (NYSSA PGA). CA-2 and CA-3 residents receive time and are reimbursed to attend a professional meeting outside the institution.

For information about the Clinical Base year click here and for FAQs for the residency program click here.

While we provide the necessary tools and opportunities to achieve the residency program goals, we expect each resident to assume responsibility for his or her own education. The personal commitment to improvement of skills, study, and acquisition of knowledge is the obligation of the individual trainee. We promote the values of independent thinking, continuous self-appraisal and high personal expectations throughout the training process; the reward for these efforts is seeing the satisfaction and success our graduates enjoy in their postgraduate professional lives.

Virginia Apgar Scholars

Physicians interested in applying to our residency program may elect to apply through the NRMP match for two Virginia Apgar Clinical or Research Scholar positions that are available each year. As a scholar, the resident would commit him/herself at the beginning of their residency to an additional two years of training either in a clinical area or in the research laboratory. An award of $15,000 per annum is given during each training year (CB, CA1, CA2, CA3 and fellowships) to the residents who match as Virginia Apgar Scholars. The Virginia Apgar Scholars Program welcomed its first scholars in 2002.  Please see the Virginia Apgar page for more information.

Application information - Applications are accepted through ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service).  Please feel free to contact Dr. Pang, Residency Core Program Director (lmp1@cumc.columbia.edu) if you  have any questions.

 

Leila Mei Pang, MD
Let me introduce myself. I was born in Hawaii, graduated from the University of Hawaii with a BA in Philosophy before I attended the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine. I was an intern in Pediatrics at what was known then as Babies Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), now called Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York.

During my intern year I saw the “light” and switched my training to Anesthesia. I completed an Anesthesiology residency at the Presbyterian Hospital, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University. After a three-year research fellowship in Pediatric Pulmonary Diseases in the Departments of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology I joined the faculty of the Department of Anesthesiology of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University and CUMC. I am a Diplomate of the American Board of Anesthesiology. I have been the Director of the Anesthesiology Residency Program since July 2002. I am currently the Ngai-Jubilee Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University. My research interest is still related to pulmonary problems, especially reactive airways and to opioid receptors as they relate to analgesic responsiveness and tolerance in the pediatric age group. Clinically, I am a member of the Pediatric Anesthesia Team where patients from the very tiny premature to the very large 20 plus-year old are taken care of for all disciplines of surgery. Included in my areas of expertise are anesthesia for organ transplantation, and congenital defects. I also help cover the Pediatric Pain Service.  Over the years because of my interest in education, I have been the moderator/facilitator for many Problem-Based Learning Discussions sponsored by the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists and have given the basic pharmacology lecture to the second-year medical students on inhaled anesthetics.  In addition, I have served as the Editor of the Society for Education in Anesthesia newsletter, Anesthesia Educator, for the last 10 years.

In my leisure time, I enjoy gourmet cooking and traveling. My oldest daughter is now in her final year of training as a resident in Emergency Medicine so I am experiencing firsthand the joys of having a child in the medical profession. My younger daughter has graduated from law school (she was told she could practice any type of law as long she wasn’t an “ambulance chaser”) and has completed her MBA. She now works as the Director of Organizational Reengineering for the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC. In addition to my hobbies, I have volunteered for medical missions as part of the Children of China Pediatric Foundation where I provided anesthesia services for patients having orthopedic, urological and plastic surgical reconstructive procedures. This foundation, as do many of the other foundations that our attending staff are associated with, allows our anesthesia residents to participate as volunteers. The philosophy that I try to instill in my children is that your education is akin to money in the bank. The better you educate yourself, the more you will have to fall back on. I try to get our residents to believe in this philosophy as well. The harder you work both in and out of the OR, the more you will learn and the easier everything will become. You will see or hear everything you need to know about anesthesia as a resident in our program if you keep your eyes and mind open. You will graduate from the program confident that you will be able to handle anything that comes your way.

 

Robert A. Whittington, MD
I am a longtime resident of New York City, and have had an affiliation with Columbia University Medical Center for over two decades.  Upon receiving my M.D. degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, I subsequently completed my internship and residency training in Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology, respectively, at the Presbyterian Hospital of Columbia University.  Following my residency training, I pursued a National Institutes of Health-sponsored (T-32) basic research training fellowship in our department and, at that time, my research focused on the pharmacokinetics and toxicity of cocaine in parturients.  Upon completion of the T-32 research training grant, I received additional NIH research funding (K08) for a project centered on the neuroexcitotoxicity of cocaine.   The K08 research grant furthered my development as an independent investigator, and also allowed me to establish collaborative research relationships with members of the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia.  As part of these collaborative research efforts, I have also served as a co-investigator on NIH-sponsored clinical research projects including a study examining the efficacy of anesthesia-assisted rapid opiate detoxification and another project investigating the neural bases of the placebo effect. 

Over the last 6 years my research interest has primarily focused on the impact of anesthesia and surgery on the neuropathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  I currently serve as the principal investigator on an NIH-sponsored (R01) research project focusing on the impact of prolonged anesthesia exposure on the development of tau protein pathology, one of the neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.  The enthusiastic research support that I have received at Columbia has enabled me to develop the requisite research skills, which has undoubtedly made it possible for me to pursue a successful career as a clinician-scientist.

In addition to my research endeavors, I have had varied clinical interests as well.  In February 1996, I joined the clinical anesthesia faculty at Columbia, and initially served as a member of the adult vascular and liver transplant services.  I have also served as a member of the division of neurosurgical anesthesiology as well as the clinical director of anesthesiology at the Allen Hospital, a community hospital of New York Presbyterian Hospital, before rejoining the general adult anesthesia service in September 2011.  In addition to covering cases in the general adult anesthesia core, I now also occasionally serve as the attending-in-charge of the adult anesthesia service, which enables me to directly interact with our residents within the sphere of the operating room.

In July 2005, I was appointed associate residency program director.  As I have always had a strong interest in academic medicine, and in resident education in particular, this appointment has certainly been a major highlight of my academic career.  In my role as associate residency director, I have worked very closely with our chair, Dr. Margaret Wood, and our residency program director, Dr. Leila Mei Pang, as well as members of our education office staff to ensure that our program remains a truly comprehensive educational experience for all our residents.  Personally, there is nothing more rewarding to see than the professional development of our residents: from novice clinical base year residents to skilled, independent anesthesiologists.  Indeed, the knowledge that I have played a role in the successful career development of many of our residents is a reward of inestimable value. 

On a personal note, I was raised in New York City, and I openly admit that NYC is truly a wonderful place to live.  The wide-ranging exposure to the performing arts, museums, cultures, cuisines, sporting events as well as the rich history of this vibrant, international city has been an incredible experience.  This city is truly unique and forms an exciting environment for one to complete their graduate medical education, as it provides a perfect accompaniment to the professional demands of residency training.  Just like medicine itself, NYC is never boring, always moving, and constantly changing.  Indeed, it is a great place, a great home, and a great place to complete your anesthesia residency training.

 

Jonathan M. Hastie, MD
I feel I have my dream job getting to work with anesthesia residents at Columbia University.  This group of bright, creative, and hard-working individuals constantly challenges me in thinking about how adults learn.

As a native Texan, I had the urge to leave the state, but it worked out that I attended Baylor University for college. At Baylor I obtained a multidisciplinary liberal arts degree with emphases in literature, languages, & philosophy, as well as music performance.   Again, it worked out to stay in state for medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas.  Despite loving general surgery and internal medicine rotations, I knew from the first week of my fourth-year rotation in anesthesiology that I’d found the specialty for me!  Anesthesiology combined intense knowledge of physiology and pharmacology with a fast-paced atmosphere in the operating room.   

From nearly the first hour of my interview day, I knew that Columbia University would be my top choice on my rank list.  It was a privilege to do training in such a comprehensive medical center with a strong history of anesthesia and equally compelling clinical training & research programs.  I completed fellowships in Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology at Columbia and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Michigan before returning in 2011 to join faculty as assistant director of the residency program. 

I look forward to going to work every day, and it’s because of the residents.  Besides a formal role in the Education Office, I coordinate a morning conference & journal club for the general adult rotations, facilitate board review, and actively teach on the cardiothoracic and CTICU rotations.

 

image
Columbia University Medical Center Department of Anesthesiology