President’s Message: COVID-19 Hasn’t Stopped ASRA from Delivering More Education and Information Than Ever Before

November 2020 Issue

  1. Eugene Viscusi, MD Director, Acute Pain Management, Thomas Jefferson University Author


Not having face-to-face meetings this year has been difficult for me personally. I love to be able to walk the halls of the meeting site, seeing colleagues, hugging old friends, and shaking hands with new ones. I had so hoped to spend my time as ASRA president interacting personally with everyone.  Of course, the world is very different in 2020. While these things are incredibly important, I am very proud of something that I think is even more important – ASRA has reached more individuals this year through education and networking than we have in typical years – virtually. Through our webinars, online courses, On-Demand CME, the ESRA & ASRA International eCongress, and the virtual Pain Medicine meeting, we are currently on track to have 40-50% more participation in 2020 than in 2019.


ASRA has reached more individuals this year through education and networking than we have in typical years — virtually.


 

In a typical year, about 65% of members do not attend a live meeting or course. In fact, many members have never attended one. By offering a much more robust virtual learning experience, we are able to reach more people and, ultimately, still fulfill our mission. Ultimately, that is why we are here!

None of the activities – live or virtual – are possible without a great investment of time and energy on the part of our volunteer faculty. Their generosity and expertise are what makes ASRA’s educational offerings the top in our field. All of our volunteers have gone above and beyond all expectations this year as we work to bring education to our members in new formats, with technology that is ever evolving. The ASRA staff also deserve a great deal of thanks in their rapid transition to the virtual space quite literally building the airplane while they are flying it!   I personally never thought  I would be such a Zoom expert 8 months ago!

We don’t just deliver education in the form of meetings. Just as we have expanded into webinars and virtual meetings, we have also continued to bring more compelling  information via our publications – and this is only possible because of an amazing group of volunteer experts as well. About 75 people participate on the Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (RAPM) Editorial Board as associate editors, editors, and executive editors. Several hundred more serve as peer reviewers. Along with Editor-in-Chief Dr Brian Sites, they reviews hundreds of submissions each year and select the articles that are going to make us think about our practice, improve patient care, and challenge us to address tomorrow’s problems today. Like many of you, I sit down and read the journal cover to cover each month. This hard work is part of what has made RAPM the second most cited journal in the anesthesiology space according to Clarivate Analytics, something we are extremely proud of here at ASRA.

Like RAPM, the ASRA News is also possible through the incredibly hard work and dedication of a committee of volunteers. One of the most requested resources is  our “How I Do It” articles, which describe individuals’ methods and experiences with specific blocks, diagnoses, and processes. In May, we offered an issue dedicated to regional anesthesia and acute pain articles, and, as promised, this issue focuses on our chronic pain “How I Do It” submissions – these are articles you will refer to again and again because of their highly practical aspects. They are fascinating, relatable, and a great way to humanize our procedures. Over the years, these articles have reached more readers than any others from the newsletter.

You don’t need to be face-to-face to get incredible value and educational content from ASRA. So, while I  would still rather see people and shake their hands, I’m so pleased that we are doing the most important part of our role as a Society – reaching people with high-quality, evidence-based educational and informational content so that we can truly advance the field.

Let me just take a moment to say thank you to the more than 1,000 authors, peer-reviewers, and editors who give their time and energy to ASRA and enrich our practices through RAPM and ASRA News!  Of course, I also want to extend a personal thank you to every one of our volunteers who have helped us continue our mission during these extraordinary times. Your dedication is appreciated beyond words! Still, I am so eager to see you all in person at a live ASRA meeting in the near future!