Professor and John P. Kampine Chair of Anesthesiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Dr. Lien completed her medical school & Anesthesiology residency from Columbia University. She has been a faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College & Columbia University in New York for several years before being appointed Chair of Anesthesiology at Wisconsin. She is an active member of SNACC.
Q 1. Do you think fellowship training in neuroanesthesia improves patient care?
“Yes, I think that neuroanesthesia fellowship training does improve patient care because it makes individuals more aware of what’s needed by the patients undergoing neurosurgical procedures. It also brings them into the realm of questioning what it is that we do, why we do it, and how we can do it better – because of greater familiarity with the techniques and the surgical procedures.”
Q 2. What do you see as the value in a neuroanesthesia fellowship?
“I think it allows fellows to become more involved in the science of anesthesiology. Neuroanesthesia is an area where you don’t want to get “on the job” training. I think that the specialty is nuanced enough, and the care of patients important enough, that you really need to understand the physiologic and surgical processes.”
Q 3. Does fellowship training factor into your hiring decisions?
“Fellowship training does impact hiring decisions when considering junior faculty applicants. For folks who have been in training for a while, with a significant amount of experience, having that fellowship training is perhaps less important. But, especially for those who are just entering a new faculty position, having that experience and growth in a neuro fellowship is really very important.”
Q 4. What career benefits do you see for a resident pursuing a neuroanesthesia fellowship?
“I think that including a neuroanesthesia fellowship in one’s training is a good career plan because it allows that individual to do more than just provide clinical care. A fellowship will allow opportunity to explore areas of interest beyond what’s happening in the operating room, in educational and research projects and mentorship opportunities. I think all that experience does improve one’s ability to function clinically, or in the lab. It is also a good way for someone to “jump start” an academic career.”
Q 5. Would you recommend anesthesia residents consider a neuroanesthesia fellowship?
“I would recommend neuroanesthesia fellowship for anyone who is interested in a career in anesthesiology. I think what you’re going to gain over that year of fellowship will benefit you, no matter what your specific area of practice afterwards.”
Q 6. What would you say to a resident who is considering a neuroanesthesia fellowship, but is unsure if it’s worth it?
“I think for the resident who’s concerned about delaying entry into practice by a year for financial reasons, my advice to them would be that this would be an investment in their professional career. Putting off salary, if it can be done, would be well worth it, in terms of future professional satisfaction, with a career in this specialty.”
Q 7. Any other thoughts you would like to share?
“I think that neuroanesthesia is – from my very biased point of view – the one area where we can actually impact what it is that the surgeons are doing, by changing the nature of their surgical field or through interventions to improve surgical patient outcomes. Whether you’re talking about the management of a ventricular drain or keeping blood pressure in a certain range, I do think that there’s just not as much leeway for a laid-back attitude in providing an anesthetic. I think neuroanesthesia subspecialty fellowship training is terrific expertise for anyone in the field.”