You Can’t Achieve What You Don’t Start

By Ankeet D. Udani, MD, MSEd, Duke University Department of Anesthesiology    Apr 27, 2016

“You can’t achieve what you don’t start” — I often utter this phrase to myself and students I teach.

I consider myself fortunate to have found my academic, educational, and clinical interests in anesthesiology. But fortune is only part of the story. Mentorship, motivation, and mobilization continue to be primarily responsible for my career development.


My mentors have certain things in common. First, they were all mentored well themselves. Each has rich past experiences, and they share similar personalities with me. My mentors keep me in mind when projects come around that match my interests. They try to get me to experiment with new projects as well—outside my comfort zone. This is how I first made the jump from simulation-based education in operating room anesthesiology to regional anesthesiology training. It was my mentors who saw my contributions to regional anesthesia training and nominated me for ASRA Resident of the Year in 2013. And, finally, my mentors always make time to meet with me, formally and informally. For all of these reasons, I am very grateful. 

Staying motivated allows me to persevere through the steps in my career that are difficult and keeps me moving forward.


Staying motivated means mastering certain skills and always looking for the next. My motivation first came from imitating my mentors and learning from them. Now it comes from an urge to best understand how we learn in medicine. It really is an urge — I have a strong desire to discover ways to effectively train anesthesiologists to be better than we ever have. Although there are a lot of us working on this goal, there is plenty of completed work to build upon. New discoveries add to our understanding and create even more opportunities for implementation and research. Staying motivated allows me to persevere through the steps in my career that are difficult and keeps me moving forward.

Mobilizing Resources

I have gravitated toward departments, institutions, and organizations that have resources to support my goals. I was able to mobilize many of these resources with guidance from my mentors and persistence. The work I put into mobilizing was always rewarded 10-fold. For example, both Stanford and Duke had programs to support me pursuing a Master’s degree in Education. The degree strengthened my fund of knowledge and allowed me to design and complete a funded study of deliberate practice in regional anesthesia training.

Mentorship, motivation, and mobilization — 3 Ms that are responsible for my career development. ASRA has played a large part in supporting my educational endeavors including research which started by winning the Resident of the Year Award. I stayed motivated and now serve as faculty at ASRA’s annual meeting. I am thankful for the award and trajectory it helped set for me. I have no doubt the award and supportive nature of ASRA will continue to develop bright minds in the future.

Dr. Ankeet Udani is a past winner of ASRA’s Resident of the Year award. He is assistant director of the Duke Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center and Duke Residency Program. He contributes to the DARE blog ( and you can follow him on twitter @ankeetudani.

Read more ASRA Blog entries.