Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

Ask Alex

Q&A with Stanford Anesthesia's Residency Director

September 2008

Criteria for selection for interview

I get a lot of questions about how we rate applicants both for interview decisions and for final ranks for the NRMP match. In general, we want housestaff who are outstanding doctors, who will make us (the department of anesthesia) look good by taking great care of patients, interacting with surgeons and nurses in the OR and be recognized for the excellent work the anesthesia residents do. We also want housetaff who will become engaged in the environment around them by getting involved in hospital, state, or national activities. These could be in research, quality improvement, or professional societies as a few examples. We also want to recruit future residents who are team players (sometimes referred to as "low maintenance" people) and become life long learners. All of these are a lot to ask for, especially when just learning the day job such as the technical and knowledge parts of the specialty (and all of its subspecialties) can be a real challenge.

It can be difficult to assess this professional potential from applications. But the outstanding people just jump out at you, right from the get go when reading their file. Thankfully, we now have more and more of these terrific candidates applying for anesthesia residency. The selection committee assesses each applicant's: grades (especially in the 3rd yr clincal core rotations) and class rank, medical school attended, the applicant’s commitment to the specialty of anesthesia (a very subjective assessment, but for example we would rather not hear that a person is switching to anesthesia from another specialty because anesthesia is easier or less demanding), research experience and potential for a future academic career, USMLE scores, communication skills, compassion & humanism, and an other category that might include: exceptional achievements, their personal statement, or really excellent letters of recommendation.


New Beginnings


July marks the beginning of a new residency class at Stanford. For many of you, the Fall marks a new beginning as well. Many of you are already well on your way toward finalizing your residency applications and learning as much as you can about various programs. Here at Stanford, we welcomed a new class of twenty-one residents last month. These outstanding physicians were trained at medical schools that span the country from Columbia University out East, University of Chicago in the Midwest, Vanderbilt in the South and Stanford and UCSD here on the West coast.

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The purpose of this blog, Ask Alex, is to make it easier for medical student applicants to learn about Stanford Anesthesia and to answer questions relevant to the application process. Please feel free to email me at or anonymously by filling out this webform.

I look forward to having enjoyable discussions with you about Stanford Anesthesia through this blog.


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