Lately I've gotten some questions from readers and I thought I'd take the chance to answer some of them. I've been rather delinquent.
Some questions from some one beginning premed studies...
1)Any opinions regarding DO vs MD training particularly as it applies to anesthesiology?
Hmmm... interesting question. I think both avenues are good approaches to medicine, and they don't differ as much as you would thing, allopathic and osteopathic classes are almost the same with a few exceptions. I think in general MD programs give you more choices when you are choosing a what type speciality you want to practice in. I've trained with DOs and done a fellowship with a DO and find so generalities applicable. I will say in particular reference to anethesiology is that it seems to be becoming more competitive as a residency. Thus we are seeing less DO physicians meet the rigorous requirements for interview selection in my facility, but those we do see are amazing candidates. So I would have to say that doing well in school and getting high board scores are the most important requirements.
2) What is your experience with physicians who were non-traditional students (i.e. older -- I am already 30), again with particular reference to anesthesiology?
First of all, I do suggest to all my friends who are considering medicine as a career to reconsider it. It is a tough road with long hours of work and study. It is physically as well as mentally taxing. There are better ways to earn money, influence, and/or respect. Saying all that, if you are one that really wants to be a medical professional, who am I to stop you? I do love my job, but the road to where I am now has been a rough one. I would however do it again.
Next, I don't think being a non-traditional/older student necessarily puts you ate any sort of disadvantage in being selected for a residency program. I think it provides an interesting perspective in the field of medicine. Being older, I think the physical demands of medical training may be more difficult. Also there is more likely to be a family involved. And that has needs of its own. All that is fine though, many people train in the medical field with large families. It just requires more juggling.
Just think though if you're considering anesthesiology at age 30 and start medical school in the next few years you may be 40 or older before even starting to have the opportunity to practice on your own. That time is valuable and it is quite a commitment. In reference to anesthesiology, there are plenty of older residents, some have completed all or a significant portion of another medical residency (anesthesia is a field that is highly switched into), some have just gotten a late start as you have. Also anesthesia is demanding, but may require less time commitment in residency some places, then say other residencies such as surgery (although there are wide spread work hour limitations)
Another question from an electrical engineer.
3) How accurate are the new monitors that are supposed to indicate depth of anesthesia in a patient?
That also is an interesting question. The device you're most likely referring to is the Bis monitor. It's gotten quite a lot of press lately. It's basically a transcutaneous monitor that picks up electric activity from the brain (EEG), performs a complicated "black box" calculation and spits out a number ranging from 100 (awake) to 0(No electrical activity). We do not use this device at our institution. There are several problems that I see. First of all there are plenty of other ways to measure consciousness clinically. The device and disposables are not inexpensive. Also what bothers me the most is that the calculations that are performed by the devices are a proprietary formula, and we are not privy to those aspects. I'm not sure how accurate thes e devices are, but regardless I'm not sure they're necessary. (just one man's opinion)
Picture taken without permission from Aspect Medical Systems, Inc. website
If I missed your question, let me know I'm trying to keep up.