There Has Never Been a Better Time to be a Cardiovascular Anesthesiologist
This year we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists. I am humbled to have been elected your next president of the society. Over the past 35 years, the society has elected only nineteen presidents. I have had the pleasure of currently working with two of them at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Jerry Reves, our second president and Dr. John Waller, our eighth. Being mentored by these fine physicians has been a highlight of my career.
Dr. Reeves (center) with his mentors, Drs. Waller and Reves.
In 1979, the society had 140 members and 83 physicians attended our first annual meeting. We are now a society of over five thousand members distributed throughout the world. Our annual meeting typically has over 800 in attendance. In addition to our annual meeting, we have added the leading educational meetings in transesophageal echocardiography and cardiopulmonary bypass. This year we had our second thoracic anesthesia meeting preceding the annual meeting. The educational mission of the society has never been better met.
Despite all of our success, many of us in the United States are concerned with the impact of the Affordable Care Act on our practices. It would be easy for the membership and leadership of the society to think that the best may be behind us. Fortunately, the past presidents and board of directors of the society have been visionaries. The society and foundation continue to grow our patient safety initiatives. We have all heard of and been proud of our FOCUS initiative but we are now much larger than a single project and have established ourselves as the leaders in patient safety within the cardiac operating rooms. This year we signed an agreement with The Society of Thoracic Surgeons to add anesthesia specific fields to the STS database. This new anesthesia-specific data will allow us all to compare ourselves to a set of national norms and will be a robust area for further research. I encourage you all to enroll your programs to participate.
In 2008, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approved accreditation of fellowship programs in adult cardiovascular anesthesiology. Our annual meeting responded by greatly expanding the annual program with educational content specific for our fellows’ needs. The society has now submitted a formal application to the American Board of Anesthesiology to establish a subspecialty certification process for individual physicians in the field of adult cardiovascular anesthesiology. This will be a huge accomplishment for individual physicians and the patients we serve by recognizing the unique knowledge and skill set needed to be a subspecialist in cardiovascular anesthesiology.
We continue to collaborate with the American Society of Anesthesiologists to develop basic transesophageal echocardiography training not only for SCA members but anesthesiologists everywhere. Members of the society have taken a lead role in establishing guidelines for both basic and comprehensive perioperative transesophageal echocardiography. These new guidelines will be published in our journal, Anesthesia & Analgesia, later this year.
Despite all of these great initiatives, after 35 years it is still critical that as a society we ask the simple question: “Are we serving the needs of our membership to the best of our ability?”
On Wednesday, April 10, your elected board of directors and a few invited thought leaders within the society underwent a two-day strategic retreat. The retreat concentrated on a few key areas:
- Growth in membership
- US private practice physicians
- International outreach
- Range of educational topics and format
- Mode of education delivery (in person vs. electronic)
- Patient safety initiatives and growth
- Capturing our new STS database for research
- Relationship with our international partners
The retreat has resulted in the development of a new mission statement and strategic plan describing our direction for the next five years. I will update the membership on our deliverables in a future president’s message in our newsletter.
The SCA has always been a true voluntary organization run by its membership. There are many opportunities for our membership to become involved in the society through our extensive committee structure. There are openings on all our committees and I would welcome your interest in volunteering to serve by emailing me (email@example.com) or Dana Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In conclusion, there has never been a better time to be a cardiovascular anesthesiologist. I appreciate the opportunity to be your next president and am looking forward to working with the board of directors, committee chairs and members during the next two years.