Membership Engagement – How Do I Get Involved?
May 1, 2021
ASRA was established in the 1970s and, since then, it has grown into one of the largest subspecialty anesthesia societies with 5,000 members across 66 countries in 6 continents.1
ASRA is comparable to a big family where participation from members is greatly encouraged. There are multiple ways to become involved in the society, and it is important to do so to influence the direction of ASRA and policy.
It has never been more essential for female members to participate and be heard.
In 1965, fewer than 10% of medical students were female. Fifty years later, women comprised about half of all medical school graduates.2 Nevertheless, gender gaps continue to exist within medicine. The leaders of ASRA have combated these inequities by serving as strong role models, advocates, and providers of support for junior members and trainees. As a society, ASRA works toward embracing diversity and values active engagement of members from all backgrounds, genders, and sexual orientation. The proportion of female faculty serving in leadership positions has increased year by year as outlined in Alberto’s article. Nonetheless, the society is still striving for an even more female and diverse representation.
Members can become involved in ASRA and channel their recommendations for changes in many ways, such as in leadership positions. There are different committees and subcommittees, ranging from the Continuing Medical Education Committee to the Newsletter Committee. ASRA members can apply in September of each year. My committee experience began when I applied for a position on the ASRA Research Committee. At the time, I was strongly interested in research and felt that I could contribute to the society. Participating in this committee was how I initially became involved and stepped up to do more than being a member. Admittedly, being on the Research Committee was both hard work and rewarding. After my term ended, I applied for the ASRA Newsletter Committee and was thrilled to be offered the position as the associate editor for the acute pain section, a position which I currently hold. The ASRA Newsletter Committee is a wonderful team of dedicated individuals with a very supportive and approachable editor, Dr. Kris Schroeder. Communication Committee chairs Drs. Edward Mariano and Nabil Elkassabany also have guided me along the way. In addition to my work as editor, I have taken the opportunity to publish articles in the ASRA News and help further guide the direction of ASRA. It should be noted that all members, including trainees, can submit ideas and articles to the ASRA News. This represents an incredible opportunity to become involved and potentially collaborate with faculty from outside institutions or on the other side of the world.
The ASRA family cares deeply for residents and fellow trainees and provides further opportunities for members of this group via involvement as a member on the Resident Section Committee. ASRA also provides annual awards and research grants including the ASRA Resident/Fellow of the Year Award, the Early-Stage Investigator Award, and the Graduate Student Award. Special interest groups (SIGs) are another way to participate and network with people who have similar clinical and research interests. I am a co-founder of two SIGs: the Green Anesthesia SIG and the Physician Mentorship and Leadership Development SIG. The Green Anesthesia SIG is chaired by Dr. Timur Ozelsel and has helped raise awareness of environmentally sustainable ideas to ASRA and its members through panel discussions, small group sessions at the ASRA annual meetings, and published articles in the ASRA News. Recently, the Physician Mentorship and Leadership Development SIG, chaired by Dr. Ashley Shilling, established an ASRA Mentor Match program to align mentoring topics and engage in meaningful mentor-mentee relationships for career advancement. This SIG also provides an opportunity for female mentors to be matched with female mentees, who may better understand gender-specific approaches to the challenges of career advancement. ASRA embraces the suggestions of the SIGs. For example, the Women in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine SIG has changed the way the annual meetings are held by advising ASRA on issues related to women in practice. Female ASRA members with impressive careers and contributions in regional anesthesia, acute pain, and chronic pain also have been recognized by ASRA through the presentation of the Trailblazer Awards and an overall focus on the "Year of Women in ASRA” in 2020.
For those interested in education, opportunities are available to become an associate faculty to develop teaching skills working closely with senior faculty. I have been involved in teaching at the ASRA annual meetings and cadaver workshops, which has been an amazing and fulfilling experience. Diversity within the faculty in turn encourages a wider range of learning experiences for participants. ASRA also is committed to enhancing the quality of faculty teaching through the Faculty Development Committee, which organizes various teach the teacher workshops.
Furthermore, there are many communication tools for raising awareness of topics, review of current evidence, current controversies, or opinion via podcasts, newsletters, and webinars. Drs. Raj Gupta and Eric Schwenk have an amazing selection of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Podcast [RAPP] topics, with discussions ranging from current regional anesthesia techniques to our experience in the COVID-19 era. The ASRA News offers Facebook Live sessions, designed to encourage discussion of ASRA News articles. The new format took off in December 2020 with a discussion on peripheral nerve stimulation in regional anesthesia. Webinars are offered on a wide variety of topics covering regional anesthesia, pain, women in medicine, environmental issues, and more.
In summary, there are ample opportunities to participate in the ASRA community, which values representing members across all genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations to be actively engaged to form a diverse society. I am very glad that I actively took the first step to become more involved in ASRA, which accepts me with open arms and values my contributions. I would encourage you all to do the same.
"Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along." - Napoleon Hill
Vivian Ip, MBChB, FRCA, is an associate clinical professor at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, Canada.
- About: Our vision is to relieve the global burden of pain. American Society of Regional Anesthesia. https://www.asra.com/about. Accessed August 21, 2020.
- Association of American Medical Colleges. The state of women in academic medicine: the pipeline and pathways to leadership 2015-16. Available at: https://www.aamc.org/members/gwims/statistics/. Accessed August 21, 2020.