UC Irvine’s Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care has been awarded a Picker Institute/Gold Foundation Challenge Grant to change how anesthesiologists are trained, emphasizing the skills necessary to treat patients with compassion and empathy under difficult conditions.

The prestigious, annual grants promote research and projects integrating patient-centered care and humanism into the education of America’s future doctors. Recipients have included Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and Dartmouth College. This year, 10 institutions were selected for grants.

“Research shows a clear connection between patient anxiety and surgical outcome, with high anxiety resulting in greater pain and diminished healing,” said Dr. Zeev N. Kain, chair of anesthesiology & perioperative care at UCI and associate dean for clinical operations. “Few, if any, anesthesia residency programs focus on the patient experience – concentrating instead on the technical aspects of care.”

The grant will fund a 19-week curriculum on supporting patients before, during and after surgery. Developed by Dr. Danielle Perret and colleagues, “Humanism in the Perioperative Environment” builds on the department’s Wellness Program for first-year residents, which fosters relaxation, healthy living practices, coping skills and effective communication in anxiety-inducing situations.

The curriculum also incorporates elements of UCI’s unique Mind-Body Surgical Preparation Program, designed to help preoperative patients.

“Surgery is one of the most stressful events in life and involves many fears – fear of the unknown and loss of control, fear of pain and fear of death,” said Perret. “Our goal is to educate and graduate caring, altruistic, compassionate and empathetic anesthesiologists.”

The new curriculum is in accordance with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which sets standards for residency training programs in the U.S.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

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