A Day in the Life of a CA-1 Resident

My typical weekday in the ORs starts at 4:30am when I wake up (actually, it’s more like 4:45am after I spend 15 minutes pressing snooze). I shower and drink coffee before leaving my apartment in the West Loop at 5:30 am. After a 15-minute drive, I arrive at the hospital, change into scrubs and am in the general ORs by 6:00am. I first stop at the pharmacy and get my anesthetic drugs for my first case and then head to my room. I go through the same routine every day to set up my room – I check my anesthesia machine, draw up drugs, prepare an airway, and then prepare for any extra needs for the case like an a-line, infusion pump, glidescope or fiberoptic bronchoscope, central line, peripheral nerve block, or epidural. I then go to lecture from 6:30am -7:00am. After lecture, I head to the Pre-op area to meet my first patient. I gather a past medical history and anesthetic history, do a physical exam, and explain the anesthetic plan to the patient as well as the risks of anesthesia. I find my attending to discuss any pertinent findings from the patient history. At 7:30am, I take the patient back to the OR to begin the case.

As a new CA1, my attending is present and supervises me for induction and intubation and is present as I complete all procedures, while giving me advice and guidance. Generally, after the case is underway my attending will explain pertinent considerations for the surgery, or review a relevant board topic and typical questions I may see. Between 8:00-10:00am I am given a 15-30-minute break. I head up to the 7th floor physicians lounge and have coffee and breakfast, while looking at a panoramic view of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan. There are always other anesthesiology residents and attending’s in the lounge, so it’s a great time to see friends, talk about weekend plans, or talk about any crazy cases or events from the morning. I then head back to the operating room to continue with maintenance of anesthesia. Somedays I will have one case that will last the entire day, and other days I will have as many as 5 short cases with quick turnovers. At the end of a case I prepare for emergence from anesthesia, and as a new CA1 generally have my attending present before extubating. My day continues like this, with a break for lunch and often an afternoon break, until usually 5pm on a non-call day, when I am relieved by someone from the on-call team.

During the afternoon, I find time to chart review for my cases for the next day. At night when I am home I will page my attending for the next day to briefly present our cases and go over our tentative plan so I can set up the room appropriately the following morning. I usually have 3-5 hours to then relax, read/study, work out, cook dinner, or see friends or family, before going to bed between 9-10pm, unless it is a weekend, when I go to bed at 10:30 (just kidding ;-)). 

Kristin Powers, M.D., CA-1 Resident

Kristin Powers, M.D., CA-1 Resident