or-readyAre You Prepared to Start Your CA-1 Year?

For every new Anesthesiology Resident starting in the OR is both exciting and stressful.  You are ready to start your CA-1 year and start doing “Anesthesia Stuff”, but at the same time, you are nervous about being left alone in the OR.  It doesn’t matter if you are starting your CA-1 year just after your Intern year, or you are starting as a CA-1 after being out in practice in a different specialty.  When you start your CA-1 year, you will feel like you are staring your Intern year all over again.  You will be in a different environment, you will have different stressors, and you will be learning a new culture.

The CA-1 year can be stressful, but it is also a great time to build your foundation in Anesthesiology.  There are some ways you can get ready to make the first day in the OR less stressful and more enjoyable.

Getting Ready for Starting as a CA-1

Make sure you have your USMLE/COMLEX Step 3 completed.  Part of the Board Certification process is to have your unrestricted medical license.  You don’t have to worry about Step 3  if you already have your medical license.  If you are still a resident, be sure to finish of your Step 3 exam before you become a CA-1.  You will want to be focusing on your anesthesia training, not on passing a general medical exam.  I’ve got some resources for your Step 3 exam here  that you should check out if you still need to complete it.

Prep for the OR

Part of the reason I proposed Vapor Camp was to prep soon to be CA-1s for the OR.  It might have been a while since you have spent some time in the OR in the role of an anesthesiologist.  While you are still working as a resident in another speciality, or working as an attending in another speciality, use your time to help prep you for the OR.

1)  Getting some reading under your belt will prepare you for training ahead and ease some of your stress.

2)  You might want to consider trying to do an anesthesia rotation or at least a shadowing experience before starting your CA-1 year.  If you have not done an anesthesiology rotation before deciding to start an anesthesiology residency, you will not have that experience to fall back on.

Books for OR Prep

When you search Amazon.com for “Anesthesia Books”, you will find a pile of books.  Where should you start?

This is where I place my mandatory, plug for my book Anesthesia Made Easy   It will help get your CA-1 year off to a great start. I wrote this book for new CA-1s who are staring out as quick start guide.  It has basic anesthesia information found in other basic books (like pharmacology charts) and it also has the practical stuff (like how to set up a room, how to draw up drugs, and how to get around in the OR).  It will help take some of the stress out of getting started in the OR. Anesthesia Made Easy is available as a paperback or in the Kindle format.


yoda-3-basic-booksThere are three very good Basic Anesthesiology Books to choose from.  I go into detail about them in my article here.  Find out from your Program Director if they have a recommended book for their CA-1 classes to use.  Some programs have a reading and didactic schedule set up for you.  If you don’t have a Basic Anesthesiology Book already, stop by the article and choose one for your Anesthesiology Library.



Anesthesiologist’s Manual of Surgical Procedures.  Great book to help you get around the OR.  Each type of case talks about surgical considerations (which includes a summary of the procedure) and anesthesia considerations (preoperative, intraoperative, and  postoperative) – all placed in charts.  I wouldn’t start reading this book cover to cover though … the first chapter is “Craniotomy for Intracranial Aneurysms” which is a case for advanced residents.  Start with something like page 389 “ laparoscopic cholecystectomy” or page 605 “laparoscopic appendectomy” which are some good starting cases.  Obviously, you can use this book to look up cases that you will be doing the next to see how to plan you anesthetic.  Anesthesiologist’s Manual of Surgical Procedures is available as hardcover or in the Kindle format.

Faust’s Anesthesiology Review.  Another one of my favorite books is the Faust book.   This is an awesome book to expand your anesthesiology knowledge.  The Faust book is organized into 254 chapters.  Now, that seems a little overwhelming, until you find out that each chapter is somewhere between one to three pages.   It is much easier to take a 2 page review on “Acid Base Status” (Chapter 47) and get an in-depth review on a subject, then try to read a thirty page chapter from other textbooks.  How cool is it to have some focused reading on a topic that you will see use again in the OR?  It is available as a paperback or as e-textbook.


Articles Prepare You for Anesthesiology Residency

There are a number of other articles you will find on AnesthesiaMadeEasy.com to help you start your training.

This article has some great resources and strategies to help you study when you are short on time.  Gone are the days of spending all day in the classroom (thank goodness).  Now you will have to learn how to study when when you have a full time job.  This article will give you some resources to check out and how to use them during a busy residency.

If you are an Intern, this article on how to Hack Your Intern Year  to prepare for the OR should be helpful for you.

The first anesthesia specific exam you will be taking is the Anesthesiology In Training Exam (ITE).  Your first crack at the ITE while an Anesthesiology resident is a little over 7 months into your training.  Doing well on the ITE will help you get ready for the ABA Basic Exam.   (You will take the Basic Exam at the end of your CA-1 year.)

Curious what it take to become board certified in Anesthesiology?  Take a look at our article about the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) Certification process to see what is ahead of you here.


Take some time to get ready for the OR.   It will alleviate some of the stress of starting your CA-1 year.   In most programs, the CA-1 year has a steep learning curve.  Fear not, young CA-1, it gets better as you.  While the transition into the OR will be stressful, you get to be learning about anesthesiology, which is really cool.

Looking for some more resources?

Check out our articles on in the right sidebar.  You will find other resources to help you as you start out our career in Anesthesiology.