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Chief Resident's Message

Greetings from Galveston Island, TX!

Welcome and we appreciate your interest in the University of Texas Medical Branch department of Anesthesiology! Your choice of residency is an important one that will not only shape your future practice with the skills you learn but also with the connections you make. At UTMB, we not only prioritize a strong clinical background, but the importance of being a team player and a helpful hand to our colleagues. We pride ourselves in hearing from various anesthesiology groups that UTMB grads are capable providers who deliver quality care. We are excited to be able to share some of what makes our program unique and how our training at UTMB continues to produce outstanding anesthesiologists that are kind, skilled, and versatile providers.

At our program we are exposed to many different hospitals with a wide variety of cases and patient populations across all sub-specialties in anesthesiology. At our main campus, Jennie Sealy Hospital, we have 20 main O.R.s in addition to remote sites such as Cath Lab and MRI locations. Joined to this hospital is John Sealy Hospital where are our endoscopy and IR suites are located as well as our L&D unit. We are also privileged to be able to provide care at our pediatric burns hospital, Shriner’s Hospital for Children. During this unique experience, we become proficient in the management of critically ill pediatric patients from across the world, and management of very difficult airways for burned patients or those with craniofacial abnormalities. In addition, at UTMB we provide care to the prisoners in the Texas Department of Corrections, where we often see unique pathology that is rarely encountered elsewhere. We also have certain rotations that allow us to work in our sister campus in the Clear Lake area. Part of the skill set of anesthesiologists is the ability to be flexible and adaptable in various situations and different hospitals. We excel in this aspect as we are routinely navigating different hospitals, entirely different campuses, and a variety of work places with their own special considerations. Our program does a fantastic job of providing gradual independence and autonomy to the residents as we navigate these situations.

As mentioned, our residents are given the graduated autonomy needed to advance from a newly minted physician to an attending anesthesiologist. When an intern begins our program, they choose between two tracks. Some choose to complete the transitional year type program at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston, while others elect to complete the “split-year” program in Galveston. We have 10 spots available for the transitional year, and 6 spots open for “split-year” tracks. The “split-year” is a unique opportunity to begin anesthesia rotations earlier than most programs by blending the intern year and CA1 year into a two-year program. During your first month as an anesthesia resident, you start out with a week-long session at our state of the art simulation center. You learn to operate the anesthesia machine, administer an anesthetic, and manage crisis scenarios in a real OR like setting. The remainder of the month is spent in the OR with one-on-one faculty and resident mentorship, complemented by daily didactics and suggested reading topics. For the remaining months, there is a mix of core anesthesiology rotations in the OR and medicine rotations in the wards, ER, MICU, etc.

As residents progress, we experience progressive autonomy in the ORs and participate in more advanced simulator sessions. Protected didactic time begins as a CA1 with Basic Exam prep, later advancing to subspecialty lectures and oral board prep. We rotate to other campuses as well, including Methodist Hospital in Houston, where we provide anesthetics at one of the busiest cardiovascular surgical centers in the country. Some of our CA3 residents choose to rotate through Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, where they care for complex pediatric surgical patients. Housing is provided for residents during these months if desired. As an upper-level resident at UTMB, you’ll begin taking on more attending level tasks such as assigning the OR schedule board, supervising junior residents and CRNAs, and managing the airway and code pager.

For those interested in academics, there are opportunities for research and education. Our senior residents give lectures and mentor juniors both inside and outside of the OR setting. There is also the opportunity to take one or more months throughout residency to dedicate to research. UTMB has several productive research faculty members, some with multimillion dollar grants and significant laboratory space on campus. Many of our residents present at regional and national meetings every year with a generous department fund to cover travel and housing expenses. Many of our faculty and residents have won awards for their research and hold appointments in state and national anesthesiology organizations. Some of our faculty have also been appointed as Oral Board Examiners which makes for great practice during our oral board preparation sessions.

The reputation of the program at UTMB means that, often, the hardest part for our graduates is choosing which job offer to take. Many of our residents also pursue fellowship training, and we frequently have a perfect match rate for residents applying to all sub-specialties. Aside from the robust clinical training, there is so much more that makes UTMB Galveston a fantastic place to train.

For instance, our CA1-CA3 residents have the chance to make excellent moonlighting pay for $100 per hour, simply by working past 4:30pm on weekdays or covering extra shifts on the weekends. Our base pay is also very competitive relative to our cost of living should you choose to live on or off island. As mentioned, additional financial benefits include a generous education allowance of $1000 per year, which can be used for textbooks, conferences, apps, study courses and materials, and more. In addition, the USMLE Step 3 exam is paid for by the department and the ABA written board exam may also be covered. A meal allowance is provided to all UTMB house staff, in addition to the faculty provided dinners that anesthesia residents often enjoy during overnight calls and during faculty-resident mentor dinners. Another unique benefit to UTMB is that health insurance is provided free of charge to residents and their families. There is also a generous retirement program where the hospital contribution is more than resident contribution.

While Galveston is a tourist destination for the people of Southeast Texas, it remains a relatively affordable place to live. Living in Galveston provides proximity to the beach, year-round outdoor sports, and saltwater recreation activities! There is a small downtown and harbor front area with shopping, dining, and entertainment. The climate on the island is an enjoyable one and the ocean views from our hospital makes for a picturesque backdrop for our work. There is a fairly even split amongst our residents who live on island and off-island with the majority of the commutes being under 40 minutes for the residents who choose to live in areas closer to south Houston. The proximity to Houston also makes for fun weekend activities and easy travel out of either Bush International airport or Hobby Airport.

Despite all these wonderful attributes, the best part of our program is the people. The work environment at UTMB is welcoming to all. Our residents and faculty come from all different backgrounds but often become lifelong friends after our years together at UTMB. There is genuine respect and camaraderie between faculty members and residents. Our department leaders listen to resident concerns and work hard to advocate for our education and wellness. We also have many family-friendly departmental activities throughout the year such as spring softball, happy hours, mentor dinners, and the annual crawfish boil where our alumni also join.

As detailed above, there are many unique and impressive aspects of our program that make UTMB Galveston a wonderful place to train. We are very proud of our department and highly recommend it! If you think our program might be a good fit for you, please reach out to us with any questions and join us for an interview and meet & greet.


Preethi Gampala, Elliot Blankespoor, Thuan Vu, and Bradley St. John
UTMB Anesthesiology Chiefs