Why you are going to love Rochester NY...
Welcome from the Program Director
Welcome to our webpage and thank you for your interest in our residency program! It was not that long ago that I was in your shoes. We have overhauled our website to give you a better flavor of our residents and department, and to make it more informational and user friendly.
The University of Rochester has had a continually ACGME accredited residency training program in anesthesiology since September, 1958. It is, therefore, no wonder that resident education is at the core of our department’s mission.
After serving as the Associate Program Director at UR for two and a half years, I was promoted to Program Director on April 1, 2019. No Joke! My predecessor and mentor, Dr. Suzie Karan, was recently promoted to Assistant Designated Institutional Officer of Graduate Medical Education for Hospital Based Training Programs. Dr. Stewart Lustik preceded Suzie as PD and remains in the department’s leadership as the Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs. I am, therefore, both lucky and grateful to have nearly 20 years of residency program leadership experience at my fingertips within my own department. With trusted associate directors in Drs. Joseph Dooley and Dr. Kaitlyn Mitchell, and Dr. Wendy Bernstein, the Vice Chair of Education, I feel confident in continuing their legacy.
A little background about me… I grew up in Cleveland, OH and, while my family all still primarily live there, I moved around… A LOT! I made two stops in the rural town of Culver, IN sandwiching stops in Oxford, England and St. Louis, MO; I went to medical school in Tel Aviv, returned to Cleveland for my internship, before moving to New York City for residency, and then Philadelphia for fellowship and my first faculty position. Along the way, I got married and started a family, and we’ve made Rochester our home.
Geography is the biggest concern that most candidates consider when making their match lists. If you thought up until now that Rochester was somewhere in Westchester County, outside of NYC, then this is probably not the program for you. I’ve lived in a lot places, large and small, and have spent a significant amount of time abroad. I’m confident telling you that Rochester has many of the cultural offerings of larger cities, and is much more accessible and affordable. Rochestarians love the outdoors, even in the winter. There are innumerable parks, trails, and lakes to explore.
I joined the University of Rochester’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine over three years ago because I recognized the Department’s and the University’s continued focus on being a national and international leader and innovator in medical education. I have found unbelievable mentorship in this department, and I found Rochester a place to grow professionally and personally.
Probably the single greatest recent innovation in our residency program was the introduction of an Integrated (Categorical) Residency Program in Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine in 2011. Despite what programs will tell you, few offer the truly integrated experience that we initiated. Our residents join the department as PGY1s (Clinical Base Year, CBY), orient to clinical anesthesia in either September or January of CBY, and complete more thoughtfully-scheduled and appropriately juxtaposed “floor” rotations during their CA1 and 2 years. For example, residents complete a month of cardiology before the cardiac anesthesia rotation. Similar rotations are paired with the neurologic, obstetric, and pediatric anesthesia subspecialties. This schedule is specifically designed to train perioperative physicians.
In addition to the integrated program, several rotations have been created to further foster the development of perioperative physicians. A few recent additions include:
The ‘Improvement’ Science rotation, a 2 week required CBY rotation which introduces residents to and educates them on quality improvement terms and topics, makes key physician and administrative leaders in the hospital accessible, and offers hands on experience in departmental and institutional root cause analyses and quality improvement projects. This rotation was nominated for the Society of Education in Anesthesia’s Philip Liu Award for Innovations in Anesthesia Education in 2018.
Anesthesiologists transfuse more blood products than any other medical specialty, so it makes sense that residents should receive education dedicated to delivery of blood products, right? During Transfusion Medicine, a one week required CBY rotation, residents work with national and international leaders in URMC’s very own Blood Bank and Transfusion Medicine Department.
Our program also offers unique non-clinical residency “tracks,” which allow residents to develop expertise in medical education, administration, or research through UR graduate level course work and the application of this knowledge through departmental projects.
Physician resilience and wellbeing have been, and remain, hot topics in the lay media, as well as within graduate medical education. In keeping with the UR traditions of promoting the biopsychosocial model (Dr. George Engel, 1977) and mindfulness (Dr. Ron Epstein), we have been early adopters of wellness initiatives, as well. “Confessions” is a moderated, small group activity which Dr. Karan initiated in 2009. Originally touted as an activity to improve resident wellbeing, we now also see its relevance in formation of physician professional identity and integration into the medical community. On Education Thursdays, groups of residents are relieved of clinical duties for didactic and interactive learning activities dedicated to subspecialty and other focused anesthesia topics. Wellness subjects, as well as time to attend to required administrative tasks and health maintenance appointments, are integral to these education days.
What do we look for in an applicant? We are looking for individuals who will bring their unique talents, skills, personalities, and perspectives to form a diverse team. Our educational program is rarely the same two years in a row. That is because we collaborate with our learners, integrating their creative ideas in order to continually grow and improve. We are looking for learners who are engaged in their education and who want to take ownership of their experience.
All of our graduates are clinically competent and board eligible anesthesiologists. This is not our program’s aim; it should be the minimum standard of any program you apply to. Our goal is to develop perioperative physicians from diverse backgrounds and with unique interests and skills to become regional, national, and international leaders in medical administration, education, and research as it applies to perioperative medicine.
As a new program director, the most frequent question I’m asked is: How do you plan to change the program? Thankfully, I took over an outstanding program! So, nothing NEEDS to change immediately. However, we are in the process of increasing the residency size to meet clinical volume, in addition to hiring more faculty and CRNAs. Ms. Gresh and I are working to standardize the rotation schedule. This in turn will increase time residents can spend on electives, especially doing research, and to personalize their experience to their interests. I am working to increase educational collaboration between the perioperative specialties, particularly with interdisciplinary educational activities on Thursdays. We are actively recruiting residents interested in completing ICU and research fellowships WITHIN their residency as a 5 year program. We are discussing the addition of rural track residents who will train at the growing number of affiliated community hospitals in Rochester’s periphery. We are constantly trying to build and incorporate technology into the residency program. The list goes on…
The University of Rochester’s motto is meliora- ever better. And I plan to continue that mindset as your program director. I invite you to learning more about our program’s unique attributes from our website and by coming to visit!
Matthew Hirschfeld, MD
Associate Professor and Residency Program Director
Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine