Day in the Life of …

Dr. Eva Martinez

Intern year

Intern year is all about transitions. For one, the student-to-resident transition is quite extreme. I still remember how cool I felt putting in orders for my patients! And how quickly this feeling evolved into feeling much more responsibility and ownership of my patients as well, which I enjoyed tremendously. UIC is unique in that it provides its interns with four entire months of anesthesiology rotations, and these were some of the best months of the year. While some of my anesthesia friends were still knee-deep in internal medicine or surgery, I was getting my feet wet with fiberoptic intubations and performing femoral nerve blocks as early as August during my VA anesthesiology rotation! Needless to say, the level of mentorship and guidance during my anesthesia months was incredible. These months cemented my love of anesthesiology while also fostering an appreciation for my foundational year as I learned bread and butter medicine.

My wildcard favorite month of the year was spent in the emergency department. Having never rotated through as a medical student, the rotation seemed daunting at first. Once I started, however, I immediately fell in love with the fast-paced, acute nature of the field. It was a variation of anesthesiology in a way, helping treat a variety of conditions in a variety of ages all within one shift. There was never a dull moment! Under the guidance of some incredible attendings, I was able to drain a huge leg abscess on a septic patient at bedside under ketamine sedation, place tough IV’s with ultrasound guidance, and stabilize a 4-year-old’s asthma exacerbation prior to his PICU admission. These are just some of the experiences that helped foster my identity as a physician and future anesthesiologist outside of the operating room and perioperative areas.

Despite some long days and unique situations (aka COVID!), the highlight of intern year has been my co-residents. From happy hours to brunches and one very delicious friendsgiving dinner, we have already fostered friendships that will last a lifetime. It’s easy to come to work with people like this!

Dr. Gates Merriman

CA-1 Resident year

The first thing I realized at the start of my CA-1 year was how grateful I was for the unique setup of our residency program at UIC. The four months of anesthesia rotations that our program schedules during intern year quickly pay enormous dividends in entering CA-1 year. Because of this, starting CA-1 year I was able to focus less on logistical aspects of the job like setting up a room and learning how to chart, and more on learning the art and science of providing anesthesia care. I don’t think a CA-1 would ever claim to feel comfortable from day one, but at UIC our program structure allowed me to build on a baseline of familiarity with the OR environment, which proved to be extremely valuable.

As the year progressed, what really stuck out to me about our program is that on top of excellent training and exposure to a really challenging patient population, we have fantastic culture. Residency is long and the hours can be grueling, so being around people who are not only smart but also just enjoyable to spend time with makes a world of difference. I found quickly in CA-1 year that our resident lounge (known affectionately as “the Swamp”) was one of my favorite places in the hospital. Being able to pop in between cases and pick the brain of a senior resident on how to manage a certain procedure is invaluable. The Swamp (I promise the nickname makes it sound worse than it is) has been the place that I’ve gotten to know my fellow residents as friends rather than colleagues, and it really is our home base as residents.

CA-1 year had plenty of challenges for residents as we adjusted to new roles and growing responsibilities, prepared for crucial exams, and improvised as we battled a pandemic, but overall it was a really great experience. I finished the year with more confidence in my skills and a greater appreciation for the challenges in our field.

Dr. Ronvir Sangha

CA-2 Resident year

While I spent most of CA-1 year getting comfortable and confident in the OR with bread and butter cases, CA-2 year is all about new experiences and challenges via subspecialty rotations.  I already knew I liked to do “big cases” after my neuro-anesthesia month last year, so I requested to front-load my year with liver and cardiac anesthesia rotations. That meant a summer of long days spent with complicated patients, but it was everything I loved about anesthesia in the first place!  Plus, the hard work paid off with some great recommendation letters and a fellowship match by year’s end.

My days would start with a 5 AM alarm and a finely tuned morning routine that let me get to the ORs by 5:45 to start setting up (it helps that there is never traffic that early).  After double checking I had the right central line kits and that my transducers were all zeroed (shoutout to the amazing morning techs that make set-up a breeze!), I hurry along to the 6:30 liver/cardiac lecture.  At 7, I meet my patient, and by 7:30 we’re in the OR where the real fun starts!   It’s hard not to feel good with invasive lines after a doing them so frequently over the month; I inch closer and closer to my goal of having the art-line, intubation, central line, swan all done within half an hour.  The attendings for these cases are often 1:1 (no other OR responsibilities), so that leaves plenty of time for teaching and breaks. After dropping the patient off in the ICU, I check-in with board-runner to see if I’m needed to finish any other cases. If not, I pre-op my patient for the next day and head home, usually anywhere from 4-7pm depending if I’m on call.

There’s always something new and fun to do in Chicago, even on weeknights.  One of my summer favorites is to walk down to City Winery on the River-Walk for apps and a drink (or two) with friends. Or if I’m feeling a quiet night in, I’ll order delivery to my River North high-rise (after taking way too long to choose a restaurant from the long list of nearby favorites) and do some light reading for the next day.