|Glenn P. Gravlee, MD
Hooray for SCA!
Go ahead. Call me corny, but what else should I say about an organization that just celebrated its 25th Annual Meeting with an educational program that drew raves, a competitively selected array of over 140 scientific abstracts, and a membership approaching 7,000? And can we throw a party, or what? More than 230 members and guests attended our black-tie optional Gala Dinner in Miami Beach, among which were 11 of 13 past SCA presidents. The other dinner attendees ran the gamut from residents and cardiac anesthesia fellows to a list of distinguished SCA veterans that read like a Who's Who list for cardiac anesthesia. If you provide them with a great live band, these grizzled veterans will demonstrate that they can still dance, and that they will do so with abandon.
We have come a long way from a fledgling organization of 50 or so risk-takers who attended our first Annual Meeting in New Orleans in 1978. Created by founding fathers Bob Marino, George Burgess, and Martin Peuler, the SCA set out to provide a forum for education and research that would accept any anesthesiologist proclaiming an interest in cardiovascular and thoracic anesthesia. The vision and dreams of these individuals has been realized and exceeded, as recounted by the marvelous Refresher Course Lecture given at the Annual Meeting by Past Presidents Marino and Burgess, who also were honored as co-recipients of our SCA Distinguished Service Award. The history of cardiac anesthesia as a discipline was told superbly by one of its founding fathers, Ed Lowenstein, in his moving Abbott Lecture. Lowenstein saluted our subspecialty with richly deserved kudos while challenging us as physicians to take a greater leadership role in public health issues both domestically and internationally.
What has the SCA accomplished in its first quarter-century? We have set a high standard for physician continuing education through a variety of meetings that many attendees hail as among the best they have ever attended. In addition to our signature Annual Meeting, this includes annual courses encompassing state-of-the-art presentations on Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE) and Cardiopulmonary Bypass as well as jointly sponsored international symposia about every two years. We have provided starter research grants for approximately 40 young and mid-career investigators. We have shown strong leadership in the development of TEE standards and certification examinations. We have gained a seat at the table in a variety of multidisciplinary activities involving the care of patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.
Where do we go from here? We need to sustain our excellence in continuing education and in providing a forum for original research. In response to the strain that has been placed on scholarly activities and academically-oriented careers, the SCA needs to enhance its research support activities by expanding its newly created Education and Research Fund. In order to provide the richest possible educational environment for our subspecialty's future practitioners and to equal the training standards set by our peers in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, we need to continue our pursuit of accreditation of fellowship programs in cardiovascular anesthesiology. (Note: This does NOT mean that we need to pursue subspecialty board certification for practitioners of cardiovascular anesthesia.)
Our progress reminds me of a Winston Churchill anecdote. As the story goes, Churchill was attending a reception in a large ballroom following a campaign speech when a leader of the temperance movement approached him. The temperance advocate disdainfully stated, "Mr. Churchill, if this room were filled with the scotch you have drunk in the last year, we would be this high [hand gesture] in scotch." Never at a loss for words, Churchill peered at the level she indicated, looked up toward the lofty ceiling, and retorted, "So much accomplished, so much left to do." And so it is for the SCA.
Glenn P. Gravlee, MD