Anesthesia Clerkship Program


The Department of Anesthesia at McMaster University, along with other Canadian academic departments of anesthesia, has the responsibility of providing leadership in the discipline of Anesthesia.

This is achieved through the conduct of fundamental and applied research, and through a commitment to the highest level of teaching students, colleagues, and the public. Integral to these goals is the organization and provision of safe and effective clinical services in anesthesia by competent and caring physicians.

Core Clerkship Rotation

The Anesthesia Core Clerkship Rotation is a two-week rotation that is mandatory for all McMaster medical students. Students are exposed to many concepts of anesthetic practice in a combination of small group sessions, problem-based learning, part-task training, theatre-based simulation, and clinical environments.

The curriculum is grounded on the principles of Adult Learning Theory. More specifically, the rotation follows the philosophy of experiential learning, for example, learning by experiencing, reflecting, and doing. Additionally, the goals are directed to a general practitioner to get an appreciation of the multifaceted characteristic of Anesthesia, which includes pieces of knowledge from various disciplines.

Considering that patients with all sorts of comorbidities may require surgical treatment, natural integration occurs with virtually all specialties.

The principles of the challenge point framework are also followed during the Anesthesia rotation. The first two days are dedicated to academic sessions related to core knowledge required prior to clinical exposure, but in a highly-supervised fashion as students are exposed to theatre-based simulation exercise. Although the challenge point framework typically suggests that gradual progression in difficulty would culminate with a real clinical situation, for anesthesia clerks, the simulation is more challenging as they act without clinical supervision and are responsible for the entirety of care of the patient. Only then can they see the outcomes of their actions or interactions.

The AFMC 2015 Graduation Questionnaire shows that approximately 85% of McMaster students are satisfied with their educational experience in Anesthesia.


Rotation Objectives
  • To acquire an appreciation of the multifaceted discipline of Anesthesia
  • To gain an understanding of the clinical application of physiology and pharmacology to patients of all ages
  • To acquire the basic practical skills of airway and circulatory management


For McMaster students looking for more information about the rotation, please visit the Anesthesia clerkship page on Medportal.

Block Electives

If you are a medical student interested in Anesthesia as a career, or if you feel further exposure to Anesthesia is important for your training, you may want to pursue an elective with us. This elective will provide a broad perspective on the scope of practice of a career in Anesthesia. Students will gain experience in the anesthetic assessment, preparation, and optimization of patients in the perioperative period. Students will also learn about the systematic effects of anesthetic drugs, as well as airway, fluid, and pain management in the perioperative period. There may also be opportunities to be exposed to obstetrical, pediatric, and regional anesthesia.

Block electives are two weeks in duration. Due to the high volume of requests we receive, we are unable to accommodate clinical electives longer than two weeks. Occasionally, one-week electives will be permitted. Requests typically need to be made several months in advance as spots fill up quickly.

It is important to highlight that electives in Anesthesia are not offered only in Hamilton. Please visit the Mac-CARE Program website for elective opportunities in the distributed campuses.


McMaster Students

Requests are made via MedSIS

Prior to placing your request, we recommend that you visit the Anesthesia Clerkship page on Medportal for more information.


Visiting Students

Requests are made via the AFMC Student Portal

Visiting students should be aware that requests are not made directly to our department. After a request is made via the AFMC portal, the Undergraduate Electives office will process it. Only after their initial processing requests are forwarded to us, depending on availability, we will accept or deny the request.

For more information, please visit here, or contact the Undergraduate Electives Office at

Horizontal Electives

Horizontal electives consist of shorter electives offered exclusively to McMaster medical students.

Typically offered to pre-clerks as an opportunity for earlier exposure to Anesthesia, a horizontal elective will consist of a minimum of 8 hours and a maximum of 16 hours of clinical exposure shadowing a clinical preceptor. You may divide the elective into any combination of full day (i.e. 8 hours) or half days (i.e. 4 hours). Please check the Anesthesia Clerkship page on Medportal for more information.

Anesthesia e-Book

Understanding Anesthesia: A Learner's Guide is an interactive electronic textbook developed by Dr. Karen Raymer and Dr. Rick Kolesar from the McMaster University Department of Anesthesia, along with Eric Brown, a McMaster medical student.

It is meant to be used for the Anesthesia Clerkship Program as well as for medical students during anesthesia electives. It is available for free download on the book's website, as well as on Apple iTunes.

AirWayve Podcast

Listen to the student's perspective - Airwayve

Anesthesia by students, for students

Find the recordings here:   AirWayve Podcast

Proudly supported by the Department of Anesthesia at McMaster

and McMaster Medical Student Council



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