Sarah Kittner, MD
Blood Bank and Pulmonary Consults, 2013
When you first hear of a rotation in the blood bank, you may be confused about what you could possibly do for two weeks. There are, in fact, many important learning points in the blood bank rotation. Anesthesiologists are in a unique position in the operating room: we place and fulfill our own orders. We're all familiar (or at least becoming so) with administering drugs, but administering blood products is quite different and can be an anxiety provoking process.
Understanding blood product processing, matching, and administration is a foundational skill that benefits us in the OR. The intern rotation in the blood bank is a worthwhile introduction to the tenets of typing and crossmatching blood, transfusion reactions, and risks of blood product administration. Dr. Fadeyi, the medical director of the blood bank at the hospital, sat with me daily during my two week rotation and gave me personal lectures on the basics. The one-on-one conversation was low-key and extremely helpful. We also reviewed each blood product reaction in the hospital to determine if it was truly a reaction to the blood product and if it can be prevented in the future. Importantly, I became more familiar with common (and not so common) transfusion reactions, what causes them, potential sequelae, and tenets of treatment.
The second two weeks of this block are spent doing pulmonary consults. Obviously seeing--often severe--pulmonary pathology is valuable to us as future anesthesiologists; however, we are also able to see a good amount of airway anatomy (some of it quite unique) in the bronchoscopy suite. I was even able to drive the bronchoscope a number of times, and believe me, if you can get a bronchoscope through the vocal cords in a breathing, coughing, sometimes talking patient, a fiberoptic intubation in the OR will be a piece of cake!
While there is a vast wealth of useful clinical information gleaned during this four-week block, another fantastic benefit is the relatively relaxed schedule and weekends off. It's a great time to study for and take USMLE Step 3, spend time doing things you enjoy, or take a weekend getaway. Definitely take advantage of the free time on this rotation!
Sarah Kittner enjoying free time with her family around Winston Salem.