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KUSM-W > Anesthesiology > Welcome > Welcome from the Program Director

Welcome from the Program Director

Dr. James WalkerWelcome to the Department of Anesthesia at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit our website. One of the biggest challenges that I encounter in trying to recruit residents into our program is getting people to know that we even exist. Wichita, Kansas is not necessarily thought of as a destination city so it sometimes fails to make the radar of prospective applicants. I am here to tell you that Wichita should be your destination city, particularly if you plan to pursue an anesthesiology residency.

Our program is a medium-sized, ACGME accredited residency with five residents per year. We have an excellent transitional year that includes experiences in critical care, surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, cardiology, nephrology, and other elective rotations. The last month of the intern year involves an intense immersion on an anesthesiology rotation during which all five interns rotate together. In addition to learning how to begin performing clinical anesthesia, they receive a crash course in basic anesthesia principles taught by their senior colleagues and attendings. This experience prepares them to enter the CA-1 year feeling very confident.

The CA-1 year includes three months of general anesthesia rotations, an ICU rotation, a research rotation, and a combination of specialty rotations in the second half of the year including preoperative evaluation, acute pain, PACU, pediatric anesthesia, obstetric anesthesia, and introduction to cardiovascular anesthesia. During the research rotation, residents have a dedicated month to work with Dr. Lee, our research Ph.D., to prepare a case for presentation at the Midwest Anesthesia Resident Conference. In addition to preparation of a case, residents can initiate a research project or join a research project already in progress. The majority of our research is clinical in nature, but bench research is an option due to our relationship with the local university. This month is also used for completion of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement module on patient safety and quality improvement. Since the new ABA board examination process involves the Basic Exam during the CA-1 year, I organize the didactic schedule to create directed study time for these residents to prepare for the exam. 

The CA 2 year is perhaps the most challenging year as it involves several specialty rotations. The residents are given an increasing amount of autonomy and expectations are elevated. I have organized the rotation schedule to try and maximize the learning experience during that year. For example, the cardiovascular anesthesia months are back to back. The same applies for the obstetric and pediatric anesthesia months. The prolonged exposure helps solidify the principles learned on these rotations. Also during the CA-2 year, our residents are offered a unique opportunity to attend a national oral board prep course, "Ultimate Board Prep," which is designed and taught by one of our own core faculty members. He offers this course free of charge to our residents, and the department pays for flight and hotel expenses to the designated location.  

The CA-3 year includes seven blocks of required complex rotations along with 6 blocks of elective rotations that are chosen by each individual resident. One of the required blocks is in Kansas City, at the University of Kansas Medical Center doing a combined pain and transplant rotation. I provide this experience to expose our residents to kidney, liver, and heart transplant anesthesia and complex pain procedures.

On a yearly basis, I make adjustments to our rotation and didactic schedules based on a number of factors including resident feedback, in training exam scores, case volume, and core faculty feedback among other things. The overall number of adjustments has become fewer each year as I have been able to fine-tune the learning experience for residents at all levels and take advantage of the teaching strengths of our core faculty members. One of my jobs as the leader of this residency is to try and bring out the absolute best in every resident and every faculty member.  I stress a very team-oriented approach for our entire group of residents. The expectation for participation in activities and completion of duties is the same for all levels. I empower all senior residents to teach their junior colleagues as well as set the example for work ethic and expectation for how this residency runs. I tell every applicant who interviews and every resident who is eventually selected that I desire hard-working, unselfish, team players to join this residency.  I strive to provide a balance between clinical and didactic learning, and time away from work. Our residents generally work 52-60 hours per week, including their didactic learning. Furthermore, I schedule all didactics in the afternoon to avoid forcing residents to rush through a morning lecture in order to prepare for a case and to ensure residents are relieved of clinical duties at a consistent time each day. I promise to prepare everyone to pass boards and to confidently enter a fellowship or a clinical practice immediately upon completing this program. First-time board pass rates for residents graduating from this program are greater than 97% for the last nine years. Furthermore, our blend of academic medicine in a private practice setting allows our residents to become accustomed to the fast pace and relationship-building required in private practice versus academic medicine. On the other hand, many of our residents go on to do fellowship training in a variety of subspecialties. I strongly encourage the pursuit of fellowship training and have been very successful helping our residents secure top choices in their desired fellowship.   

Wichita is a great community. It is very safe and family friendly. The school districts are outstanding. Traffic congestion is never a problem and Wichita has a newly opened ultra modern airport that provides easy access for travel in and out of Wichita. I hope you consider making Wichita your destination for Anesthesiology residency training.

James Walker, M.D.
Program Director
Clinical Associate Professor
Medical Director, Neurocritical Care

Last modified: Sep 20, 2018
Anesthesiology Contact

Samuel Crawford
Residency Coordinator

Ascension Via Christi St. Francis
929 N. St. Francis, Room 8074
Wichita, KS 67214