Department History

History of the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine

Caring for children, training anesthesiologists and preparing practitioners of pediatric anesthesiology has been the role of this Department for more than 50 years. 

Under the early leadership of Dr. Digby Leigh, the Department established itself as a prominent training center for many of the pediatric anesthesiologists in the Western United States and Pacific Rim. This mission has been successfully fostered by the successive Directors of Anesthesiology and remains its focus today. In addition to providing leadership in training pediatric anesthesiologists, the Department has also taken a leading role in providing education to anesthesia practitioners across the United States. The annual Clinical Conference in Pediatric Anesthesiology is the oldest continuous pediatric anesthesia program in North America. 

Expanded Coverage

The Department has expanded its coverage from the traditional operative setting to include:

  • Pain management
  • Remote anesthesiology
  • Clinical consultation
  • Perioperative
  • Radiology 
  • Critical care services

The Department provides anesthesia services to a large number of subspecialty services including Cardiothoracic, Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Plastic Surgery, to name a few.  

Department Staff

The Department currently has 22 Faculty and four Fellows. We also train approximately 120 Residents annually from throughout Southern California, as well as Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist (SRNA) trainees.

Fellowship Program

The Fellowship Program is fully accredited under the direction of Drs. Randall Wetzel and Laura Hastings. The Fellowship Program attracts applicants from across the United States and internationally. A comprehensive educational curriculum (e.g. lectures, resource materials, media presentations) complements the various clinical rotations.


We also have the good fortune to practice in 15 new, state-of-the-art operating rooms, each outfitted with the most advanced anesthesia equipment available. Patient documentation is performed through a fully automated, online computerized system. The preoperative and intraoperative records are integrated. The practice is further supported by annual Department retreats for leadership training, planning and problem resolution.

Contributions via Publications

Over the years, the Department has contributed significantly to anesthesia literature. The recent integration of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, as well as the reorganization of the research infrastructure in the Department, provides ample opportunity and support. The Department is firmly committed to continuing to contribute to the growth and understanding of our specialty.