New AI Fundamentals course educates anesthesiology residents in emerging field

Anesthesiology residents now have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI) through a yearlong course developed and taught by J. Chris Goldstein, M.D., and Heidi Goldstein, M.D., both affiliated anesthesiology faculty based at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center.

Inaugural course

Seventeen residents participated in the inaugural AI Fundamentals course during the 2020-21 academic year. The Goldsteins developed the curriculum for the course after identifying a lack of opportunities for anesthesiologists to learn AI concepts, and they believe the course is the first of its kind nationwide. The course, which is open to all PGY2-PGY4 anesthesiology residents, will continue to be offered next year and include more hands-on and proof-of-concept projects.

The faculty duo has always been fascinated by the specialty of anesthesiology, with its unique combination of a personal human touch, modern technology, and cutting-edge procedures. As technology enthusiasts, they have worked to stay updated on the latest developments throughout their careers.

“We think it is vital to…know the risks and benefits of AI in the perioperative setting so that we can continue to deliver safe and vigilant care while using state-of-the-art technology.”

Group of residents who participated in the inaugural A-I course

Creating a pathway for AI

In 2017, they realized the true potential of AI when they attended a conference focusing on the future of medicine, where they had a chance to connect with leaders in the field. To further their knowledge, the two UF residency alumni began to take AI courses and soon realized that there was no formal path for anesthesiologists to attain a basic understanding of AI.  

“Through continued discussions with one another, we decided to change this once we became more comfortable with the fundamentals of AI,” Heidi Goldstein said. “As we anticipate that this technology will play a significant role for our specialty in the future, we felt it is our responsibility as educators to pass this information on to our residents to ensure they continue to remain at the top of their field in all areas.”

To raise awareness of the need to become “AI literate,” the Goldsteins recently published peer-reviewed articles in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, Medical Teacher, and the Journal of Clinical Anesthesia as a call to action regarding AI education in medicine and anesthesiology. In response, they have received requests for further information and course sharing from anesthesia faculty as far away as the United Kingdom.

“We think it is vital to become ‘anesthesiologists-in-the-loop,’ or AITL, who know about the risks and benefits of AI in the perioperative setting so that we can continue to deliver safe and vigilant care while using state-of-the-art technology, which is at the core of our specialty,” Chris Goldstein said.

The course comes as UF makes a major push into AI with a long-term initiative involving world-class research infrastructure that is seeking to make the university a national leader in the field.