“Human Beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-directed, and connected to one another ... And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” - Daniel Pink
Penning an introductory letter to our department has given me time to reflect on a number of things. Among them is the gravity of the commitment each resident makes to become a consultant in anesthesia. Another is the role a program director and faculty can play in the acquisition of the knowledge, skills and judgement required of an anesthesiologist and how the tone we set and the culture we foster can facilitate our residents’ development. In the end, the proper learning environment must be open. It must be collaborative. It must be safe. Incorrect answers are opportunities to learn. Imperfect technical procedures are a way to build expertise. Faculty must help foster this openness that makes them approachable and provide roadmaps to success.
While my entire career has not been at UConn Health, I can honestly say that educating and mentoring the residents here has been the most satisfying period of my career. I am enormously proud of what they have achieved and the role our faculty plays in their development. As I take on the role of program director from assistant program director, I am fortunate for the structure and the strength of this program created by my predecessor, our former Chair and now Professor Emeritus - Dr. Jeffrey Gross. Together with Dr. Tom Martin - one of the most gifted teachers and mentors I have come across in my now lengthy career - we look to continue to strengthen and evolve what is already a wonderful program. It is a program with a huge and diverse faculty spread across four major teaching hospitals - each with their own style and expertise. It is a program that is expanding with a blossoming ACGME fellowship in cardiac Anesthesia and two strong and growing regional fellowships in existence. It is a program that boasts unprecedented results on resident satisfaction surveys. It is a program whose graduates I could not be more proud of.
As we move forward, there are three fundamental values I stress to our residents and seek from our applicants. Humility, curiosity and the tenacity to maintain the former two traits through their training and beyond. If we, as professionals, have the humility to understand what it is we do not yet know, the curiosity to seek out more information and better methodologies, and the tenacity to pursue those ideals, we will do well as consultants in anesthesia, physician scientists, leaders, and as professionals. I can ask nothing more.
Stephen Panaro, M.D.