Category Archives: Anchorage

5 star review of the ANMC rotation!

The WWAMI rotations are a big part of what make our residency program special, and I recommend prioritizing at least one of these experiences during training. The ANMC rotation is an incredible experience that I would recommend to all comers, particularly those interested in specialty medicine. The people who work at ANMC are delightful, and the attendings (particularly Dr. Lovely and Dr. Gitomer) are so fabulous that they alone make the experience worth the trip. It was a fantastic month, both for my medical training and for my life experience. Since so many of the other posts go into detail about the rotation structure, amenities, etc., I’ll spend more time her talking about my personal experiences.

In the hospital: I spent my first two weeks at ANMC in the ICU and my second two weeks in outpatient specialty medicine. The ICU is a general critical care unit, so you take care of a combination of medical and neuro patients with all sorts of different pathology. This rotation is a great opportunity to do procedures (including subclavian lines); the attendings knew that I wanted to do as many procedures as possible, so even after I had gone over to the outpatient part of my month, the attending would come get me to place non-urgent lines. You see a lot of advanced pathology, and it’s a great way to start feeling comfortable with independence in the ICU setting. The outpatient specialty rotation was also tremendous. I rotated cafeteria style with several different specialties over the two weeks, but if you have a particular area of interest in mind, you have the freedom to focus your time. Alaska is tricky for delivery of specialty care, as the population is so spread out and sparse, so patients often fly 700 miles to come to Anchorage to see their specialists. This experience enriched my medical training profoundly, and I hope as many of you as possible choose to take advantage of it.

Outside the hospital: There is a lot to do in and around Anchorage, and I really enjoyed getting out of the hospital and going hiking, halibut fishing, sea kayaking, and getting to know the city. I was there during September of 2013, which is the rainy season in Anchorage. That time of year it was generally overcast/rainy and in the mid-50s, not unlike a slightly warmer version of a Seattle winter. Anchorage is a wild place, and I saw a lot of wildlife. Kinkaid park is a great place to see moose, but I also saw one in my attending’s neighbor’s yard one night. University Lake right next to the hospital has a nice walking trail around it and is home to a lot of beavers.  Potter Marsh on the south edge of town is a must-see, and you can frequently spot swans there. Alyeska ski resort is a short drive south of town if you like beautiful views of glaciers and the off-chance of seeing a bear.

Moose are everywhere in Kinkaid Park!
Moose are everywhere in Kinkaid Park!
This is Eklutna Lake, the water reservoir north of Anchorage, in late September, 2013, the day after the first snow was dusting the mountains.
This is Eklutna Lake the day after the first snow dusted the mountains.
I took this picture while sea kayaking in Kenai Fjords national park in late September, at the very end of sea kayaking season.
I took this picture while sea kayaking in Kenai Fjords National Park at the very end of kayaking season.

In short: go to Anchorage! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I love talking about all the things I got to do and see in Alaska!

Anchorage in the Summer!

Doesn’t get much better than Alaska in July/August when I was in Anchorage.  You get a sweet apartment that comes with a bed INCLUDED AND a rental car.  When I was there I split time between the hospitalists and the outpatient world.  My recommendation to people going there would be to skip the inpatient side of things (can’t speak for MICU) and do all four weeks in the ambulatory setting.  The hospitalists are all really cool but you will mostly be dealing with alcohol withdrawal, some CHF and CVAs.  The ambulatory setting on the other hand has AWESOME pathology and really super interesting medicine since people come from all over Alaska.  The general internal medicine model is super interesting there as patients are primarily followed by ARNPs, PAs, family med, etc for there general primary care needs and are referred to an outpatient internist for interesting/difficult cases.  You also have the opportunity to work with an Endocrinologist (who is awesome), nephrologist, dermatologist, GI doc, etc.  I spent a lot of time in GI and by the end he wasn’t even dressing up for the EGDs and I was doing them independently as they are mostly diagnostic scopes in patients who arguably don’t need them.

You will also get more time off and have earlier days to enjoy the endless sunshine.  Everyone gets a 5 day weekend and that’s the one I used to go to Denali where it was in the mid 70s, the mountain was out every day and I saw tons of grizzly bears, moose, and other creatures of the wild.  Do the coastal trail, climb flat top, go fishing, get a kayak and bike from one of the hospitalists and cruise around.  Let me know if you questions or need advice on what to do.

It should definitely be #1 on your schedule wish list.


I spent october of 2012 in anchorage at the ANMC MICU.  I had originally set it up as a split block: half MICU, half wards, but decided to just extend my ICU time once I was there.

It’s  a very interesting ICU to work in.  As always, spectacular nursing staff and respiratory therapists make ICU rotations some of my favorite.  They use pressure control instead of AC style ventilation as a default up there, which is a transition that was definitely useful if a bit challenging at first.

There’s an incredible variety of patients, ranging from the worst hyponatremia I’ve ever seen (Na of 98, a combination of beer potomania and schizophrenic polydipsia, wowza), to intense alcohol withdrawal, to the usual mix of sepsis and stroke management.

The opportunity to do procedures varies a bit based on the pathology mix, but even on slow days I would head across the hall to the OR and do scheduled intubations.  There was a nice mix of bronchoscopy, intubations, central lines, LP’s, and art lines otherwise.  Some people had much more procedural months than I did, I only did 3 or 4 of each of our internal medicine procedures.

The attendings come from all over, as they rely on a fair number of locums.  Dr. Madhani-Lovely is spectacular, and will force the residents to really justify decision making with an evidence base when she is on service.

The hospital itself is great, and the sheer splendor of alaska is literally breathtaking at times.   When I would leave the parking lot near sunset, I’d sometimes find myself waxing poetic and wishing for paints. The logistics of licenses and such can be a bit of a drag, so try to get started on those things way in advance.  In general, the people in the hospital are pretty motivated to help you out.

October in Anchorage

I spent this last October in Anchorage which was a great experience.  You are provided lodging in a modest apartment and a rental car.   October was a great time of the year to go, as it wasn’t too cold and there was no snow on the ground so exploring the surrounding areas was not particularly difficult.

I split my time between the hospitalist rotation and the outpatient clinic. The hospitalist I was paired with was none other than Ted Wright, former UW Boise track graduate.  I carried about 7-8 patients and admitted every weekday.  The hours were not bad. The case mix was bread and butter medicine (pneumonia, urinary tract infection, chest pain, DKA). One of the more interesting parts was discharge planning as the patients you take care of come from some very remote areas in AK.  In fact, they have a hotel in the hospital to stay at while you get outpatient follow up if needed.

The outpatient clinic experience was subspecialty medicine (renal, ID, pulm, rheum). The paired faculty are great and there was a lot of teaching.

All in all, a great month.

March in Anchorage

Still cold, but an amazing four weeks.  I highly recommend rotating at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage!

Clinical rotation:

  • You will be given a choice of (1) outpatient clinic, (2) inpatient medicine, or (3) ICU.  You can pick 2 of 3 if you want to mix/match.  I chose a mix of outpatient clinic (and requested a GI focus) and inpatient medicine.
  • For outpatient clinic, you can work with a general internist and see everything, but you can also request to work with the specialists, assuming they are available.  There are two infectious disease docs, a gastroenterologist, a rheumatologist, a neurologist, a dermatologist, nephrology PA, pulmonary, etc.  Many of the specialists see patients in the clinic, but also perform inpatient consults.  You get more weekend time off.
  • For inpatient medicine, I was assigned to an Attending (who rotates weekly).  I carried about 5 patients of a 12-15 pt service.  Rounds are pretty informal and you have independence, but still have opportunity to discuss the plan with the Attending.  I admitted from the ED.  There is good support for PT/OT, social work, etc.
  • ICU is a busy service, generally.  Less weekend time off, but a lot of procedure opportunities.

Alaska Native Medical Center:

  • Beautiful facility.  Very modern.  The patients are also amazing, mostly Native and from villages hundreds of miles away requiring travel in by a bush plane.  I learned so much about Alaska geography and native culture throughout the month.  The patients are very warm and friendly.  I really enjoyed interacting with them.



  • A big city.  Plenty of supermarkets, coffee shops (Kaladi Bros!), restaurants, gyms, museums, etc.  Even in March, snow can be challenging and I would recommend considering upgrading to a slightly nicer car with all-wheel or 4-wheel drive, especially if you plan to take some road trips.

If you have time off, consider going to:

  • Anchorage museum
  • Drive 2.5 hrs south to meet up with the Soldotna resident and then continue on south to Homer, AK
  • Hatcher’s Pass
  • Talkeetna
  • Seward (I never made it here)
  • Fairbanks is quite far and unless you have a lot of time, you would probably need to fly.  You can also take the Alaska Railroad
  • In winter, plenty of downhill skiing, cross-country, snowshoeing.  You can even organize dog-sledding/mushing, ice fishing, snowmobiling or a flight over Denali if you want.
  • If in March, try and see the start of the Iditarod (pretty amazing!) and the Northern Lights.IMG_0986




Steve Vindigni

December in Alaska

Despite the negative five degree weather, snow, and a highly functional Kia Forte… this was an absolutely amazing rotation. I spent 4 weeks in the ICU working as a fairly independent entity with my own patients and responsibilities. The highlights of this were close interactions with the attending, making vent changes on your own, and the procedures. I did somewhere around 13 subclavians, 5 IJ, 1 tunneled line, 2 broncs, and helped with an EGD. The staff are great and they are interested in you and your education. I would get in around 7:30, round at 8:30 and usually leave around 7 pm unless it got busy. Overall a great rotation. Anchorage is nice, but cold. Although I did do a fair amount of running which was spectacular! I would totally recommend this to anyone interested!

Andrew Prouse

Alaska Native Medical Center Aug/Sept 2012

I just got back from a month at ANMC in Anchorage.  I did 2 weeks of hospitalist and 2 weeks of outpatient clinics.  Like previous posters have said, you see a lot of cancer and alcohol-related complications on the inpatient side.  And it’s true that you can get exposure to EGDs and doing treadmills, if you like those kinds of things.  You can pretty much see whatever you want, in terms of procedures or surgeries and whatnot since the place is small enough and the staff are very accommodating.

I’d like to put in a plug for the outpatient experience, since not many people have posted about that thus far.  You rotate through different clinics everyday, including a combined rheum/pulm connective tissue disease clinic (where you see more scleroderma with interstitial lung disease than you have ever seen in your life), GI clinic, hepatitis clinic, general medicine.  The outpatient attendings are all great teachers and excited to have us there.  The patients are great, appreciative, and come from very interesting places.

Aside from the clinical experience, the rotation is very well-organized with great support from the coordinators.  They give you a long weekend so you can go explore Alaska.  I made it to Seward for a glacier/wildlife tour and also to Denali National Park.  I don’t know if I was unlucky with the weather but by the second week of September there were more rainy days than sunny ones.  But no matter what the weather, the Alaskan wilderness is majestic.

Just make sure you have one of those nice cameras with the big lens if you want to take good pictures of wildlife.  You don’t want to have to be too close to a grizzly.

anchorage, december 2010

My month in anchorage at the Alaska Native Medical Center was a really wonderful! Most of the nuts and bolts have been posted by Kanishka so I won’t belabor them. I went in December in the middle of my R2 year and despite being shorter days (yes there is about 7 hours of light at the worst), the city in the snow was beautiful. There are multiple trails within the city if you enjoy cross country skiing, showshoeing, nordic skiing.  Its also very close to Alyeska, the local ski resort.

In terms of my medical experience, I did 2 weeks of ICU and 2 weeks of hospitalist. I think one of the biggest advantages here is that the internists do nearly all the procedures and I had the opportunity to learn to  intubate, do a lot of lines, and EGDs.  All the specialty services that you consult are just the attendings (no fellows) so often times they will allow you to be a part of any procedures they may do as well (I was able to go to the O.R. w/ ENT to help w/ a trach). The teaching in the ICU is great as well. On the hospitalist service you are able to be fairly independent and many of the attendings you work with are pretty close to residency so you can really see the transition if that’s what your interested in for a future career.

I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone. It’s a great opportunity to work very closely with attendings and they are very excited to have us!

Zita Shiue, R2

Alaska Native Medical Center, Sept 2010.

Hi, this is Jason Goldman ( and I was at Alaska Native Medical Center, in Anchorage, AK during the Sept 2010 block. Looking back at Kanishka’s post, he pretty much said it all so I won’t reiterate all those details which are very accurate.

I did the intensivist rotation, although they would be OK if you did 1/2 and 1/2 of any combination of the intensivist, hospitalist or outpatient. My wife also came with me and did a rotation (for her NP training) at ANMC at the Ob/Gyn clinic. The intensivist was a bit longer hours than the other rotations (Justin Schram was there at the same time
and did 1/2 hospitalist and 1/2 outpatient), but very rewarding. It’s just you and the Pulm-Crit Care attending. The ICU is ~15 beds and you’ll carry usually half the patients. There is a mix of medical and surgical patients, so that’s a bit of variety in taking care of some trauma patients (although the surgeons also round). The cases were bread and butter mostly (they don’t get over medialized there!) with a mix of some cool presentations (Takotsubo’s, Liver abscess & shock, etc).   You’ll have plenty of autonomy, but enough supervision, you’ll likely get to do some cool procedures too! 

ANMC is a sort of cultural center and when you’re leaving in the evening, sometimes there will be some ceremonial chanting or dancing in the lobby (this circular meeting place). The patients and their families were really sweet and gracious people.   

You’ll definitely get time to travel around the state, we went to Denali, canoeing/fishing on Kenai Peninsula and sea kayaking out of Seward. The long days are pretty sweet!

Please email with any questions!

Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage, Sept 2009

Howdy, my name is Kanishka Garvin, and I’m currently an R3 and just finished my WWAMI rotation at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. It was a great experience and strongly encourage anyone interested to do it.

The rotation had been primarily a hospitalist rotation, though now, they have opened opportunities for more critical care experience by adding an intensivist rotation as well as a clinic/outpatient component. You can choose one of the three exclusively or do some combination. The experience is whatever you make it of it. (FYI, they provide you with free housing and car rental.) I chose only the hospitalist component. You rotate with a different attending each week and usually carry 4-6 patients of your own. When you change attendings, you carry those patients with you for continuity. The attendings are great teachers and have been at ANMC for a long time. They really like UW residents and enjoy teaching. They give you full autonomy with your patients. You round by yourself and usually touch base with your attending if you have any questions later in the morning. The hours are usually 8:30 to 4 (very flexible, no overnight call obviously) unless your attending is admitting that day, then you stay a little later til 6 or 7. (this is only once a week.) You do work one weekend but they give you a 4-day weekend to make up for that. (which is great for long travels into Alaska).

The medical center itself is a beautiful facility with a unique patient population. It is a referral center exclusively for the Alaska Native population and you will frequently meet patients from the Arctic Circle, the Aleutian Islands, or somewhere else in the middle of nowhere. I’ve learned a ton about a variety of Native cultures and some of the medical issues related to them. There is a lot of bread and butter here with a lot of alcohol-related issues (dilated cardiomyopathy, GI bleeds, etc. ) However, there are fair number of cases you will see here not in the lower 48 states. There is a high prevelance of post-partum cardiomyopathy in Native women which you will take care of. In addition, there are a high prevelance of infectious diseases unique to here due to the dietary and hunting pratices of Alaska
Natives. They include botulism (the highest anywhere in North America), echinococcosis, and trichinosis (from bear/walrus meat).

Alaska is probably one of the most scenic places I’ve been. I think Washington State and the rest of the Northwest pale in comparison. I recommend coming between April and September for good weather and daylight. Anchorage itself is like any other American town with everything you need, though surprisingly diverse. You can still retain some of the ethnic fare from Seattle with decent Thai and Indian but there are a lot of good local restaurants and bars for that “Alaska” experience. There is a nice downtown area and tons of parks around for cycling or hiking. And it’s not unusual to encounter a moose or two since they are everywhere. The best thing about Anchorage is that it is a great launch pad to visit the rest of Alaska. I was able to go north to Denali National Park (use your long weekend for that) which was only 4-5 hrs away. If it’s a clear day, one of the most scenic places in the world with Mt. McKinley and tons of wildlife. I saw grizzly bears, moose, caribou, coyotes, and even a lynx. You could even go further north to Fairbanks and beyond to the Arctic Circle. Then, to the south of Anchorage, there are a lot of places to go on the Kenai Peninsula. I went to Whittier (1 hr) for glacier viewing and to the coastal town of Seward (2.5 hrs) where I saw killer whales, sea lions, and other wildlife in the ocean. Homer is another coastal town (6 hrs) that would be a good overnight trip to launch from Anchorage, and you could stop in Soldotna (3 hrs) or other towns along the way.

In conclusion, I had a great month getting to experience Alaska. And my clinical experience was fantastic both from a medical and cultural standpoint. I highly recommend this WWAMI site! Please feel free to contact me with any questions.