A Professional Meeting to Remember

November 2020 Issue

  1. Magdalena Anitescu, MD, PhD Professor, University of Chicago Medical Center Co-author
  2. Jaime Baratta, MD Associate Professor, Thomas Jefferson University Co-author


How the ASRA Fall Meeting Has been Designed, Transformed, Evolved, and Executed in the 2020, Year of the Pandemic

by Magdalena Anitescu, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, ASRA Worldwide 2020/19th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting

Spring ASRA Meeting Take Two! A Second Chance at Our Visions of the Future at ASRA Fall 2020 Worldwide

by Jaime Baratta, MD, Co-Chair, ASRA Worldwide 2020/19th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting; Chair, 45th Annual Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine Meeting


How the ASRA Fall Meeting Has been Designed, Transformed, Evolved, and Executed in the 2020, Year of the Pandemic

by Magdalena Anitescu, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, ASRA Worldwide 2020/19th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting

As a young resident and fellow, I was always amazed, impressed, and fascinated by how our ASRA meetings seem to flow effortlessly. All the science, research, and educational courses; the stature of the presenters and their knowledge; and the down-to-earth explanations coupled with faculty approachability made me think that I really was, for the four days of the meeting, in a pain medicine fairy tale every single time I attended. In the magical world that is ASRA, everybody was a family member, all for one and one for all, on the quest for acquiring latest developments in pain medicine.


This year’s annual meeting theme is “2020, Perfect Vision.” Even in virtual format, it will be reflected throughout the meeting by... presenting the state of pain medicine in the year 2020 and the achievements, developments, and directions from the past, present, and future of our specialty.


During the ASRA meeting, strangers encountered once became long-term friends. Speakers heard once became mentors. And I, as a junior anesthesia attending at the University of Chicago, could not be happier to make their acquaintances. For years, I was happy to be the attentive pupil who would listen to the novel lectures or the busy bee instructor who taught the workshops.

When the email came from the incoming ASRA president asking if I would consider being the 2020 Fall Meeting chair, I thought it was a mistake. It was January 2017. As I understood that the invitation was indeed real, I embarked on this amazing journey that took almost three years to complete.  In this short piece, I would like to share my experience working with all of you, ASRA members, trying to bring to life the best science and technological advances to improve patient outcomes in the year 2020.

The journey that I started is certainly not the same as the end, as pandemic railed in and derailed our course in so many ways, while making the meeting stronger in other ways. Going back to the winter of 2017, one can wonder how a meeting can keep relevance when the development began almost three years before it actually happens. A valid point! But as I mentioned earlier, the ASRA society is not like any other professional society. The support, the help, the guidance from the president, board, and staff, makes this journey from idea to real.

Like anything else of this magnitude, everything starts with a schedule. For the first six months after the invitation, I had to come up with a meeting theme and to think of how I would wrap the meeting around it. After many chats with many of you, ASRA members and friends, the idea of a theme started to shape a little…Year of the meeting would be 2020…well, that is the perfect vision…why not link them together. And so, the theme of the 2020 ASRA Fall meeting became “2020, the Perfect Vision,” a theme that would explore all aspects of pain management and dive deep into each topic for an accurate account of

  1. What is new, emerging, and developing in pain management
  2. Details of all those topics similar as would be seen with a falcon’s vision (figuratively speaking of course!).

After that, we (the newly formed scientific planning committee and I) started to work relentlessly to find the best topics and best specialists and scientists to deliver them. We listened to the ASRA members suggestions, went to many other meetings to hear speakers deliver their talks, and, in the end, invited the best of the best. The content constantly changed and aligned with the ASRA CME Committee requirements while maintaining novelty and the cutting-edge spirit.

Through multiple meetings, brainstorming, and searches, we finally had a wonderful program in a comprehensive grid by early March 2020. But, as coronavirus spread throughout the world, its invisible tentacles made their way into our planning as well.

And so, just like that, our meeting became virtual…well, not quite…we really, really, really hoped that it would be an in-person meeting… but gatherings more than 50 people were not allowed in Las Vegas and our meetings usually draw about 1,200-1,400 participants.

So virtual it is for 2020! The spirit of the “2020, Perfect Vision” remains. We preserved most of the carefully designed sessions in this virtual program, except of course the workshops that need in-person contact. As the Spring Meeting suffered an even harsher fate and was cancelled at the last minute, we combined efforts. Jaime Barrata, MD, the 2020 Spring meeting chair, and I designed a meeting that incorporates chronic pain medicine, regional anesthesia, and acute pain topics.

While I will let Jaime speak about her sessions, for the pain management topics, you, my dear ASRA members, will NOT be disappointed.

As discussed, this year’s annual meeting theme is “2020, Perfect Vision.” Even in virtual format, it will be reflected throughout the meeting by national and international experts and leaders in pain medicine presenting the state of pain medicine in the year 2020 and the achievements, developments, and directions from the past, present, and future of our specialty.

We will explore the role of the pain specialist as a “medical detective” who is best equipped to identify what generates pain but also treating pain with a complexity of novel agents and interventions. In multispecialty panels, we will highlight the importance of placing ourselves in each other’s shoes, investigating the various chronic pain syndrome diagnoses and treatment from multiple perspectives. Current and future directions in combating the opioid epidemic, pain genes and genetic mutations in chronic pain, neuromodulation, and tackling cancer pain are just a few examples of what you will encounter in our meeting. In the era of busy physicians and practices, academics, or a mix, we will provide attendees with essential complementary and alternative, regenerative, and psychological techniques to incorporate in the treatment armamentarium to effectively help our patients.

As the pain community expands, we will bring pain specialties together and ultimately develop a lingua franca based on relevant research discoveries and ambitious interventions for the chronic pain medicine community. Many panels will have multiple specialists who will discuss treating chronic pain from different perspectives.

Our interactive sessions will be live-streamed. We will discuss current hot topics in pain management, such as radiofrequency ablation, magnetic resonance imaging compatibility, cybersecurity for implantable devices, a special session related to the future of our pain specialty, and, of course, the impact of COVID-19 on our specialty.

Our virtual meeting will be a blast! First of its kind in ASRA's history, and one that we think will be “a professional meeting to remember.” I'm excited and looking forward to connecting with all of you during the three days of the 2020 ASRA Pain Medicine Meeting — counting down the days to it!


 

Spring ASRA Meeting Take Two! A Second Chance at Our Visions of the Future at ASRA Fall 2020 Worldwide

by Jaime Baratta, MD, Co-Chair, ASRA Worldwide 2020/19th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting; Chair, 45th Annual Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine Meeting

Much like it has been for the rest of the world, the last few months have been a rollercoaster. In the spring, my planning committee and I were excited to bring you an innovative and thought-provoking meeting, but, of course, COVID-19 had other plans.  


The PACU is not the finish line, and there is so much more we can do to provide value for our patients beyond the operating room.  


As the chair of the 45th Annual Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine meeting, the process of planning this meeting began several years ago and our team had done our homework by listening to feedback and developing sessions geared to your needs. From the start of this process, it was such a great honor to be chosen as scientific chair of this meeting and to serve ASRA and the membership and deliver what we knew would be a successful meeting. Now after overcoming the initial heartbreak of the cancellation, we are excited for this new opportunity. It is our Spring ASRA Take Two! And what makes this meeting even more special, is that combined with the Fall ASRA Pain Medicine Meeting, the educational opportunities and content will be more diverse than ever. This entire program encompasses cutting-edge topics for regional anesthesiologists, acute pain medicine practitioners, and chronic pain medicine practitioners.

With four concurrent tracks, we are continuing to promote diversity and inclusion. Regional anesthesiology and acute pain medicine continues to grow and evolve exponentially not only in science, research, and guidelines, but also in our membership. This year, you see (virtually of course) a number of new faces who are excited to share their expertise with you. 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring all of my planned meeting sessions to you for this virtual meeting. With all of the content we had planned and limited space, it was so hard to choose what to include. One of the main themes of the meeting is the role of acute pain physicians in perioperative medicine. We play an integral role in driving enhanced recovery and managing the complicated issues in perioperative pain management. As I’ve said before, the PACU is not the finish line, and there is so much more we can do to provide value for our patients beyond the operating room. We are bringing together leaders in our field to discuss our impact on outcomes. Does ERAS work for every patient? What about the complicated patients who are outliers? We will also talk about the pain trajectory — from acute pain to transitional pain to chronic pain — can we predict which patients are most at risk and intervene earlier so as no patient is left behind? Expert faculty will address these topics throughout the meeting, including Drs. Kristin Schreiber, David Clarke, Vijaya Gottumukkala, Sean Mackey, Meg Rosenblatt, Ellen Soffin, Danielle Ludwin, Jinlei Li, Andrea Nicol, Eric Schwenk, and Stephen Macres (just to name a few). We are excited to introduce so many newer faces to the ASRA membership as well, including, Drs. Lopa Misra, Steven Porter, Rodney Gabriel, Christopher Robards, Meera Gonzalez, Ashley Shilling, and Jeffrey Ciccone. 

Regional anesthesia is continually evolving and developing, and ASRA is dedicated to not only embracing our tradition but continuing to introduce new techniques. While a virtual meeting is not conducive to workshops, we are excited to offer an advanced fascial plane blocks interactive demonstration. A number of the world experts of fascial plane blocks including Drs. Sree Kolli, Ki-Jinn Chin, Hesham Elsharkawy, Nadia Hernandez, and Hari Kalagara will join to share with you their knowledge and techniques for the erector spinae blocks, quadratus lumborum blocks, and retrolaminar blocks. Come enjoy this session with all your burning questions in hand! As regional anesthesia has moved beyond the traditional indications, join our faculty as they discuss additional opportunities to show our value and help our patients by “Thinking Outside the Blocks.” Has the ultrasound become the new stethoscope? Point-of care ultrasound (PoCUS) experts Dr. Karen Boretsky and Dr. Stephen Haskins will take the virtual stage and debate this topic in a can’t-miss event. We’ve invited orthopedic surgeons to give their perspective on enhanced recovery and pain management in ambulatory joint surgery, joint revision surgery, and spine surgery including Dr. Frank Schwab and Dr. Derek Amanatullah. 

One of our main focuses this year is physician wellness, and, as we continue to navigate the challenges of this pandemic, these sessions could not be more timely and necessary. We have a special session on recognizing and enhancing wellness as it continues to afflict medicine as a whole. Dr. Michael Weinstein, renowned trauma surgeon, will cover his inspiring journey and ultimate triumph through this all too common topic, while Drs. Ashley Shilling, Brian Harrington, and Meera Gonzalez will give their insight on burnout and physician wellness programs.

While we couldn’t include the entire practice management portfolio, Drs. Sanjay Sinha, Colin McCartney, and Alexandru Visan will address the most pressing issues facing our specialty. The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed healthcare systems across the country, and it is imperative that we, as regional anesthesiologists and acute pain physicians, show our value and ensure our financial survival. Another can’t-miss event is the RAPM Data Blast: A Year in Review. Dr. Brian Sites, editor-in-chief, will lead a panel of experts in discussing and highlighting this past year’s most impactful journal articles.

After the rollercoaster last several months of planning, I want to extend my thanks and deepest appreciation to my planning committee and the ASRA staff for their support throughout the highs and lows of this process. None of this would be possible without the hard work of every one of them. Having the unique opportunity to collaborate and work with the Fall Meeting Chair and now my co-chair, Dr. Magda Anitescu, has been a true honor, and I know that her portion of the program is cutting edge, innovative, and “the perfect vision” of the trajectory of pain medicine. Although I am saddened that we cannot meet, learn, network, and celebrate in person, I am excited to “virtually” meet and connect with you all again this November. Come log-on this November and get comfortable on your couch for a fun-filled, packed three days of learning, debating, discussing, and connecting with experts in regional anesthesia, acute pain medicine, and pain medicine. We can’t wait to “see” you again at ASRA Worldwide 2020!

Tags: #ASRAFall20, #ASRAWorldwide2020