President's Message

The Past, the Present and the Future

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another which states that this has already happened." - Douglas Adams - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Every so often, an organization needs to reassess its long-term visions, missions and goals and if necessary reinvent itself in order for progress and advancement to occur. For an organization, such as the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthes-iologists, whose mission has steadfastly remained the promotion of "excellence in patient care through education and research and perioperative care of the patient undergoing cardiothoracic and vascular procedures", it would seem that all objectives and goals would remain static. However, since there are many paths that can result on the promotion of education and research in cardiovascular anesthesia, a method for mapping out the many directions which the Society could travel is needed. One way of achieving this is through a strategic planning process.

THE PAST - Under the leadership of Dan Thys, MD, immediate past-president of the SCA, a strategic planning session with our Board of Directors was initiated in February, 2000. During an intensive full day think tank with some of the most knowledgeable and creative minds in cardiac anesthesia, a plan was developed for the future of the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists. Seven primary goals were set with a total of 52 objectives underlying these goals. A number of task forces were created and active interventions were undertaken in order to promote the 52 prioritized objectives.

Two years into the 2000 Strategic Plan, it became evident that significant progress had been made in accomplishing many of the objectives. Based upon SCA membership responses, educational programs were restructured. Some of the changes included initiation of an increased number of workshops and problem-based sessions at the Annual Meeting, with more emphasis on perioperative transesophageal echo. Another primary objective was to promote cardiovascular anesthesiology, not only to our membership, but throughout all of medicine. To achieve this, the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists began interacting to a greater level with other professional societies, such as the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The development of a "Frequently Asked Question" section on our website was a major step in meeting our objective of education of the public. Restructuring of our research grant financing status fulfilled another objective.

While much was achieved, not all objectives were successfully met. The decision to have foreign language translations at our Annual Meeting seemed like a good idea during our brainstorming sessions, but attracted almost no interest when offered to our international members. Similarly, the offering of taped Annual Meeting lectures offered for viewing on a paid website was not successful in attracting SCA members who had been unable to attend the Annual Meeting. However, these failures have been as important as our successes in determining the direction for future growth. By early 2002, it was evident that many of the 2000 strategic objectives were well along the way to being accomplished.

THE PRESENT - In February 2002, a second strategic planning session was convened to update and redefine the direction of the SCA. Of interest, after the session had completed all deliberations, the seven primary goals of the SCA remained virtually untouched. However, the accomplishment of these goals was redefined by 40 objectives and new priorities were established. High on the list was the promotion of cardiovascular anesthesiology to the public, to all anesthesiologists and to the entire medical community. Some ten task forces were the result of our strategic plan, each assigned to the ten highest priority objectives. As might be expected, continued evaluation of educational programs and tailoring of research grants were given high priority. Many other areas were also deemed crucial. Continuation of our growing relationships with the ASE and AHA will be fostered, and we will attempt to develop new relationships with other groups such as the Society of Thoracic Surgery and the American Red Cross. Expanding our international membership was also identified as a priority with particular attention to trying to find ways to bring our educationally-rich offerings to economically disadvantaged countries. A new direction, for the SCA, is to develop financial support from external granting agencies and perhaps through the development of an endowment fund. In addition, the SCA will be exploring the development of an anesthesiologist key contact program to enhance communication with the public and the media. Finally a new presence within our journal is a priority, as we reassess the Society's position in the whole area of publications.

THE FUTURE - Though the ten Task Forces have been assigned to address the objectives with the highest priorities, and many have made great strides, much work remains. The strategic plan allowed us to reassess our mission, values and goals. Though most of the primary goals remain the same, our path to the accomplishment of these goals has undergone change. This dynamic process of internal questioning and self reassessment assures that progress can be made and the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists can remain in the forefront of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Anesthesia.

Roger A. Moore, MD
President, SCA

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