|James G. Ramsay,
SCA and the International Community of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists
Before speaking of our society's many ef-forts to work with the international community, on behalf of the SCA board I wish to extend my heartfelt sympathy and compassion to all those affected by hurricane Katrina. In addition I would like to recognize the many efforts and sacrifices made by our members in the stricken states; I know of many examples of heroic medical work by these members, many of whom have had their lives turned upside down by the catastrophe.
The SCA website now has a special temporary job section, as a service to those who may wish to find temporary positions while their own hospitals are closed. While only SCA members may list positions, anyone with Internet access can view the temporary positions available around the country. Also, our website has access information for two organizations helping to coordinate the relief effort.
SCA is an International Society
While most of our members live in North America and most of our activities occur on this continent, the SCA is an international society. Nearly 20% of our members (excluding residents) live outside the United States, and 14% live outside of North America. In conjunction with local societies we have co-sponsored nine very successful international meetings, some of which have been "satellite" meetings held near in time and place with the World Congress of Anesthesiologists meetings. In 2006 we are co-sponsoring the 10th International Congress of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Anesthesia in Prague, Czech Republic (August 27-30, 2006; http://www.iccva2006.cz). The Chair of our International Committee, Bel Russell, has been working closely with Karel Cvachovec, President of the Czech Society of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, to plan an outstanding scientific program with cardiovascular and thoracic experts from around the world.
Our most recent international meetings have been in Tel Aviv (Israel), Quebec City (Canada), Santiago (Chile), and Istanbul (Turkey). In each instance the SCA has provided starter or "seed" money to help get the planning process underway, and then followed with major time and energy contributions by members of our International Committee to help plan the meetings. In some instances the "seed|" money has been returned to the SCA when the meeting was financially successful. We view these meetings as an important part of our mission, and strongly urge our members from all countries to consider attending. As you can see, these meetings take place in interesting locations where you can combine business with pleasure.
While our three meetings held annually in North America and these international meetings provide excellent educational and "networking" opportunities for our members, there are many anesthesiologists around the world who do not have the resources to attend. In particular, few members from developing countries can afford the combined costs of meeting registration, travel, and accommodation. We have made several attempts to bring the SCA expertise to cardiovascular anesthesiologists who may have difficulty in attending our meetings. At our 22nd Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, we put on a TEE workshop in Spanish, organized by my former colleague Luis Michelson. While those who attended were very positive in their evaluations, the cost of coming to and staying in Orlando was still excessive for most Latin American anesthesiologists (the target audience); the attendance was disappointing.
SCA Teaching Outreach to Developing Countries
A few years ago Zbigniew Wojciechowski and Bruce Spiess developed the concept of a "Teaching Outreach" for developing countries. The SCA board endorsed this concept, and we allocated funds to send SCA members to "host" countries for outreach projects in 2001 and 2003 (alternate years from International Meetings). While we made an attempt to publicize this program, our efforts proved to be ineffective and we did not have any applicants. My hope is this newsletter message will reach members in developing countries (or perhaps members in more developed countries who have "connections" with developing countries), and they will contact the SCA office or me directly - we would very much like to continue to offer this program.
Asociación Latinoamericana de Anestesiólogos Cardiotorácicos ("ALACTO")
Last month I had the pleasure and honor of attending the first meeting of the Latin American Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, or "ALACTO". Dr. Jose Sanchez from Lima is the President of this new society, and he was a very effective advocate for this first meeting held in Cusco, Peru. There were more than 60 anesthesiologists present, representing almost all the middle and South American countries. The Secretary of the society is Ricardo Gerenstein, a former Argentinian now living and practicing in Florida. In addition to organizing TEE work-shops for the attendees, Ricardo very graciously translated my two lectures into Spanish "on the spot," allowing me to communicate with the mostly Spanish speaking audience. Both Drs. Sanchez and Gerenstein are SCA members in good standing. They and their colleagues from the various Latin American countries were very gracious hosts. The attendees at this first ALAC-TO meeting were enthusiastic at the prospect of forming ties with the SCA. I believe we should support their developing society, perhaps moreas a "Teaching Outreach" as described above than as an international meeting. Their next meeting in August 2006 is planned to be in Cartagena, a beautiful resort city on the coast of Colombia. It certainly seems more realistic that North American SCA members travel to these meetings, than the other way around. I invite any members with an interest in this society to go to their (Spanish language) website, www.alacto.com. In addition, the SCA board will discuss how we might support ALACTO in their future meetings.
I encourage any member with ideas or proposals to foster increased interactions with cardiovascular anesthesiologists outside of North America to contact Heather Spiess at our society office, or to contact Bel Russell or me directly.
James G. Ramsay, MD