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To a Young Airway Trainee

timeless Advice on how to build a successful emergency airway strategy

One gentle spring afternoon I had the sad task of going through the office belongs of one of my mentors in emergency medicine. Amongst his things, tucked away neatly in a drawer was an old letter (sent to him by what I can only assume was his mentor) although in the many years I knew my friend he never mentioned this person.

I opened the slightly damaged envelope and began reading. Though the edges of the paper had yellowed and the ink faded with time, the words rang out as bright and clear as if they had been written yesterday. Within the words I could hear the voice of my mentor, and realized that the echoes of the past live on in us today, by the special way we pay it forward to the next generation of clinicians.

Reading this, I recalled that my airway training was often uneven. Even with some great teachers, sometimes I got it right; sometimes I had to learn things the hard way. Looking back I wish I had paid more attention to the advice given in this heartfelt letter earlier on in my training.

Now, I like to imagine that my mentor knew I would find this treasure – a last gift sent to me by way of the dusty desk of time. I think he would have wanted me to share it. Take the time to read it, take its advice to heart, and I promise you you will have an easier time than I did mastering this vital skill of emergency airway.


“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke


THe LEtter

  • Jonathan St George MD
  • Creator of the Protected Airway Course

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