Mass General anesthesia resident David Hao, MD, discusses the hospital's response to COVID-19 and shares his hopes for the future.

Originally from Edmonton, Canada, David Hao, MD, came to Boston in 2018 to pursue training as a member of the resident class of 2021 in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine (DACCPM) at Massachusetts General Hospital. His clinical interests are centered on chronic pain management and the application of multimedia in health care. He hosts “Depth of Anesthesia,” a podcast that critically explores clinical dogmas by reviewing evidence.

In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to peak in Massachusetts, Dr. Hao reported as the first-call overnight resident when one of the first suspected COVID patients was urgently transported to the operating room for surgery. Dr. Hao had to quickly understand and apply rapidly evolving and often complex guidelines in an uncertain situation.

Knowing that I have brought even a brief moment of comfort or peace is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

From this experience, and with the support of department and hospital leadership including Daniel Saddawi-Konefka, MD, MBA, residency program director, Dr. Hao spearheaded the creation of a series of educational materials — including videos and infographics — outlining best practices and recommendations for patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team used social media platforms to share the guidelines so key safety concepts were accessible within the Mass General community and to health care professionals across the world.

Dr. Hao shares why he chose the Anesthesia Residency Program at Mass General, his experience in the program so far and advice for those with similar professional goals.

Learn more about the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine:

The Department of Anesthesia Confronts COVID-19
Anesthesia: Comparing What Happens to Music
Researcher Pursues Improved Pain Measurement
Rethinking Anesthesia

Why did you pick Mass General’s Anesthesia Residency Program?

I knew that this residency program would offer me the opportunity to learn from world experts and care for some of the highest acuity patients. For me, this program was distinguished by its commitment to resident growth. We are given a balance of guidance and autonomy in a supportive environment that allows us to learn to address challenges, as we pursue excellence in clinical care.

What is one thing that motivates you every day?

My patients. As anesthesiologists, we are fortunate in that we have the opportunity to care for people at the most vulnerable and stressful moments in their lives. I do not take that for granted. I am motivated every day by the experiences that I share with my patients. Knowing that I have brought even a brief moment of comfort or peace is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

My hope is to practice in an academic center and continue to surround myself with colleagues who are passionate about patient care and advancing the field. I am interested in the intersection of health care with media and design, and I hope to be able to use multimedia and other platforms to advance clinical and educational missions.

I always knew that Mass General was exceptional because of its people and I saw that firsthand throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

What advice would you give to someone interested in applying for the Anesthesia Residency Program at Mass General?
My general advice is to think about what is most important to you and to find a program that supports that. Many of the questions and concerns you have as an applicant might be the same ones that we had when we were in your shoes. Reach out to us. We are happy to help.

How did your work during the COVID-19 pandemic impact your experience as a resident?

I always knew that Mass General was exceptional because of its people and I saw that firsthand throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I witnessed teamwork, compassion and dedication to excellence on a daily basis. I saw our entire staff pivot to new roles and adapt to new environments, all while maintaining the highest standards of patient care. It was inspirational and I felt immensely proud to be a resident in this community.

To make a donation or learn more about how you can support the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, please contact us.

This article first appeared as a Mass General Staff Story.