Anesthesiology is an extremely popular medical specialty, undoubtedly encouraged by its $426,000 median clinical salary and its 3-4 year training program.
Focused on helping people more easily tolerate pain or discomfort, especially in preparation for surgical procedures or diagnostic checks, it’s also an important one that touches the lives of millions.
The best anesthesiology residency programs offer those interested in the specialty the greatest training possible in the field and boast some of the finest anesthetists on earth as alumni. But they are competitive; especially when you consider there are roughly only around 1700 anesthesia residency spots in the US!
This article takes a look at the top 5 programs in the country (ranked as per the US News Best Grad Schools Rankings 2022), taking a deep dive into what’s offered by each and what you can expect if you’re lucky enough to match.
We’ve also included key info on facts/stats for each program (where publicized) too.
Ready to get started? Let’s go.
1. Johns Hopkins University
|Length of Accredited Training:||3/4|
|Positions By Year:||27-29|
|Total Number of Residents:||75|
|Male/Female Percentage Breakdown:||54.9/36.2|
|Average Number of Interviews:||150|
|Faculty to Resident Ratio:||1.7|
|Hours on Duty per Week:||53.7|
|Average Resident/Fellow Compensation:||$58,470|
Each year, around twenty-five talented candidates join the Johns Hopkins Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine Residency Program. This advanced three-year program is designed to train expert consultants in anesthesiology.
The program begins with a month-long orientation. During this time, residents receive one-on-one intraoperative teaching. They also have daily didactics, workshops, and simulation experiences.
After orientation, residents complete one-month rotations in the following:
- Surgical Intensive Care
- General Operating Room
- Preoperative evaluation
- Acute and Chronic Pain Medicine
The Johns Hopkins Hospital occupies more than nine city blocks in East Baltimore. Most of the operating rooms are in a state-of-the-art clinical building that opened in April 2012. This building is the primary working location for residents. In addition to required rotations at the Hopkins main campus, residents complete six weeks of rotations at Hopkins Bayview. This opportunity exposes residents to a different work environment.
Every other Thursday is dedicated to resident education. These “college days” are protected times when residents have no clinical responsibilities and partake in board review sessions, case discussions, flipped classroom sessions with faculty experts, well-being sessions, and more.
The flexible curriculum allows each resident to pursue their unique clinical and research interests, particularly in the CA-3 year. Residents can choose electives or spend up to 6 months doing research at Hopkins or away, even internationally.
See the video below for more on the ins and outs of the program…
- Name: Johns Hopkins University
- Location: Baltimore, MD 21218
- Program director: Jed Wolpaw
- Contact: 410-516-8000
- Website: anesthesiology.hopkinsmedicine.org
2. Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital
|Length of Accredited Training:||4|
|Positions By Year:||24|
|Total Number of Residents:||116|
|PGY1 Annual Salary:||$68,000|
The Massachusetts General Hospital anesthesia residency program provides residents with comprehensive training and research opportunities in anesthesia, critical care, and pain medicine. The teaching approach at Mass General, which is the largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, is centered around improving one’s performance. Residents are encouraged to push themselves to the edge of their competency to become expert-level clinicians or leaders in health care.
The integrated clinical base year (CBY) starts with a one-month tutorial. The tutorial introduces interns to the field of anesthesia and prepares them to safely provide a simple anesthetic to a healthy patient.
The CBY is divided into twenty-six blocks of two weeks each, including seven blocks of electives and two blocks of vacation. Residents spend twenty blocks at Mass General and six at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital. You can find Anesthesia Resident Profiles here.
Traditional rotations such as internal medicine and emergency medicine are paired with integrated rotations where interns work with advanced-year anesthesia residents. Two full days each month, interns are brought together with faculty for lectures, skills workshops, and simulation foundational to the practice of anesthesia.
Subspecialties are typically introduced after 3 to 6 months. And by the end of their CA1 year, residents have had at least a handful of subspecialties targeted to their fellowship interests in addition to at least one more complex case rotations, like thoracic or cardiac.
The video below provides more info on the program…
- Name: Massachusetts General Hospital
- Location: 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114
- Contact: 617-726-6890
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: massgeneral.org/anesthesia/residency
3. University of California San Francisco
|Length of Accredited Training:||4|
|Positions By Year:||18|
|Total Number of Residents:||96|
|PGY1 Annual Salary:||$62,487|
The UCSF Anesthesia Residency program has evolved to keep up with the increasing complexity of the perioperative and critical care environments. A significant strength of the program is the diversity of the clinical experiences that residents are exposed to while they provide patient care in six different medical centers.
During the integrated Clinical Base Year, interns rotate through several departments, including Medicine, Surgery, Neurology, and Critical Care. Interns celebrate their entry into clinical work in the department with a month of anesthesia at the end of the year.
The first Clinical Anesthesia year (CA-1) focuses on intraoperative training in anesthesiology. During their CA-2 year, residents undergo intensive training in a variety of anesthesia subspecialty areas. Senior residents return to the general OR in their CA-3 year, providing anesthesia and intensive care with increasing autonomy. Senior residents also care for patients undergoing the most complex procedures, such as liver, heart, and lung transplants.
Residents can choose between the Critical Care Medicine and the Research residency tracks. They are also invited to participate in the Pathways to Discovery programs run by the School of Medicine. In this case, they may extend their training into a CA-4 year to acquire additional specialized skillsets.
UCSF Anesthesia has a whole playlist on YouTube that takes you inside residency life at the school…
- Name: University of California San Francisco
- Location: 505 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94143
- Contact: 415-476-1000
- Website: anesthesia.ucsf.edu/residency-program-ucsf-department-anesthesia
4. Duke University
|Length of Accredited Training:||4|
|Positions By Year:||15|
|Total Number of Residents:||60|
|PGY1 Annual Salary:||$58,020|
For 50 years, Duke’s Anesthesiology Residency Program has trained world-class physicians, attracting top-notch residents from across the world. And indeed, each year, more than 1000 applicants compete for one of the 15 intern positions available. Residents accepted into the program complete their clinical rotations within the Duke University Health System in Durham, North Carolina.
Duke has kept their anesthesia residency program intentionally small to provide excellent case volume and complexity to each trainee. Residents thus receive personalized attention and handle their own cases, giving them a greater amount of hands-on experience.
Residents who graduate from the program can work independently in any setting and with confidence in their clinical ability. The final CA-3 year of training is tailored to the ambitions of each resident, and some choose to engage in research projects.
The highly selective Academic Career Enrichment Scholars program (ACES) is an innovative curriculum intended for graduates seeking to become independently funded researchers.
The video below has more info on Duke’s Anesthesiology Residency Program…
- Name: Duke University
- Location: Durham, NC 27708
- Contact: 919-681-3811
- Program director: Annemarie Thompson
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: anesthesiology.duke.edu
5. University of Michigan Ann Harbor
|Length of Accredited Training:||4|
|Positions By Year:||30|
|Total Number of Residents:||120|
|PGY1 Annual Salary:||$64,101|
The University of Michigan’s Department of Anesthesiology has one of the largest residency programs in the country. Residents are exposed to a range of complex cases and innovative procedures. This allows them to develop skills to meet the highest standards of patient care and research.
Each year from PGY-1 through PGY-4 is divided into 13 four-week blocks. The comprehensive curriculum of the intern year focuses on critical care medicine, surgical and medical specialties, emergency medicine, pain medicine, and research. You can check out some of the PGY-1 and 2 stories on the school’s “Meet Our Reisdents” page.
Didactic instruction during the PGY-2 through PGY-4 years includes weekly tutorials, simulation sessions, and hands-on workshops. Every three months, the clinical competency committee provides to each resident a written evaluation to encourage progress and suggest methods for improvement.
CA-1 residents are assigned mainly to the adult hospital, where they learn the anesthetics for general surgery for six or seven months. CA-2 and CA-3 residents are primarily performing subspeciality and then advanced subspecialty rotations.
Check out the video below for more info on Michigan’s program…
- Name: University of Michigan
- Location: 1500 E Medical Center DriveAnn Arbor, MI 48109-5048
- Contact: 734-936-4280
- Program director: Norah Naughton
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: medicine.umich.edu/anesthesiology-residency
How Do Anesthesia Residency Programs Work?
Training in anesthesiology involves completing four years of graduate medical education first before moving on to dedicated anesthetics residency programs.
Upon successfully matching, residents will usually complete a combination of the following:
- 3 years of clinical anesthesia training
- 1 year of clinical base training (in a broad range of medical disciplines)
The latter usually takes place in the first year of graduate medical education and typically restricts residents to only a single month of training in anesthesia during the initial 12 month period.
How Many Anesthesia Residency Programs Are There?
There are just over 130 anesthesiology residency training programs accredited by the ACGME.
The examples above are considered the finest offered among those programs in the US and are ranked on criteria via peer assessment, residency director assessment, student selectivity, the mean MCAT score for the institution, the mean GPA of its matriculants, faculty resources, research activity and more.
The exact methodology is detailed in the U.S. News Best Medical Schools Rankings pages
How to Get Accepted Into a Top Anesthesiology Residency Program
Gaining admission into the top anesthesiology residency programs involves submitting a competitive application via ERAS, The Electronic Residency Application Service.
This is a centralized online application service that you’ll need to use in order to “match” into the programs above.
Most programs begin reading applications over the first couple of weeks of autumn/fall and invite applicants to interview in the weeks following.
Generally, anesthesiology residency program applications include the following:
- A completed ERAS application
- Personal statement/s
- Supplemental statement/s (where requested)
- Letters of recommendation from anesthesiologists (usually following the SLOR format)
- A full, official medical school transcript
- Your USMLE Step 1/COMLEX transcripts
- Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
Selection criteria are specific for each program but commonly applicants are scored on a combination of grades, clinical and research experiences, special interests, and anything else anesthesiology departments/programs find relevant.
To be competitive, and stand a chance at matching into the best anesthesiology programs, you’re going to need great Step 1 and Step 2 scores, a strong MSPE, and a solid letter of recommendation.
If you found this article interesting, you may find the following a useful read:
- Residency ERAS Photo Tips (9 Best Tips & Examples!)
- Shadowing An Anesthesiologist (Ultimate How-To Guide)
- Surgery Vs. Anesthesia: Which Is The Better Career Choice?
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.