This question arises frequently among applicants and then as well once the person is in residency. I believe there are many advantages to a fellowship year including 12 more mths of clinical experience and seasoning before the anesthesia trainee is fully responsible for a patient, time to optimally prepare for the oral exam needed for board certification, and satisfying a curiousity about a particular subspecialty.
The reality is that anesthesiology has become so broad and deep that an additional year is needed to get indepth expertise in a clinical area. At the Stanford Anesthesia Residency two thirds of graduates are entering fellowships, the largest fraction ever.
The recognized fellowships by ACGME (which follow the same duty hour and competency rules as residencies) are:
1. Pain Medicine — 80 programs and 223 fellows nationally
2. Critical Care Medicine — 45 programs nationally (only half of approximately 120 positions filled however). In contrast, pulmonary medicine ICU has 133 programs with 1266 fellows, surgery has 94 ICU programs with 153 fellows, Medicine has 32 programs with 136 fellows, and Neurology 25 programs with 91 fellows.
3. Cardiothoracic anesthesia — 33 programs with almost all of the 108 positions filled.
4. Pediatric anesthesia — 151 Fellows in 2009.
If more anesthesia residents (total number of about 1500-1600 graduates per year) are to do fellowships, and there are fixed number of fellowship slots (N=approximately 600-700 for the 4 ACGME accredited fellowships), what other fellowships are available at Stanford?
Examples of non-ACGME Fellowships
Patient Safety & Crisis Management
Management of Perioperative Services
Pediatric Pain Management