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Visiting Medical Student Clerkships

Pain Medicine (Minnesota)


Students observe and participate in two areas of practice of the department of anesthesiology at the Mayo Clinic, the outpatient pain management practice and the general surgical practice. The student spends two weeks in each area.

In the pain medicine portion of the rotation, students learn basic evaluation techniques of the chronic pain patient, observe a variety of procedural techniques including fluoroscopic-guided injections and other pain procedures, and learn basic medication management for chronic pain.

For the anesthesia portion of the rotation, students learn basic techniques for airway management, vascular access and the monitoring of anesthetized patients. They also are exposed to specific anesthetic procedures such as regional techniques (spinals, epidural and axillary blocks), central venous and arterial access, and invasive monitoring.

Specific goals

  1. Develop skill in evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions, including read/interpret spine x-rays and other radiographic studies.
  2. Obtain experience with or exposure to interventional pain management techniques, including fluoroscopic guided procedures.
  3. Develop skill in calculating opioid conversion equivalents.
  4. Gain an understanding for the use of adjunctive pain medications.
  5. Observe and participate in all aspects of anesthesiology, including preoperative assessment, administration of anesthesia, intraoperative management and postoperative care.
  6. Understand the basic principles of airway management, advantages and disadvantages of regional versus general anesthesia, intraoperative monitoring techniques, preoperative anesthetic concerns for surgical patients with coexisting diseases, risks of local anesthesia and sedation, contraindications for anesthetic techniques and common complications of anesthesia management.
  7. Understand the basic pharmacological and physiological phenomena of the perioperative period.
  8. Develop an awareness of the breadth and depth of the practice of anesthesiology.

Activity outline

The rotation will be divided into two sections, two weeks each. The pain management section the student will work with board-certified pain specialists, pain fellows, residents, and nurses. The student is expected to attend didactic programs provided by the Division of Pain Medicine during the rotation. Professional attire is required.

During the general anesthesia section, students rotate through different anesthetic subspecialties and work with both consultants and residents in anesthesia for the rotation. Students assist consultants in preoperative assessment, the administration of anesthesia, intraoperative management and the postoperative care of surgical patients. They also attend daily teaching conferences and weekly departmental meetings and participate as appropriate.

Copies of Basics of Anesthesia 5th ed, by Stoelting and Miller, are made available to students, who should be familiar with it by the end of the rotation.

Method of evaluation

Students will be given a reading syllabus based on Basics of Anesthesia and will be administered a written test based on this reading at the end of the rotation. Further, evaluation of performance is based on demonstration of familiarity with these reading assignments and clinical efforts by individual consultants. Although anesthesia encompasses many technical skills, the level of competence in these skills is of minor significance in student evaluations.


One student per rotation for 4 weeks.