President's Message: Taking Stock of Education and Advocacy

Jul 11, 2018, 09:33 AM by Asokumar Buvanendran, MD

As we approach the end of the year, it is natural to look ahead to the coming year and think about renewal. A new year, new resolutions, maybe a new perspective on an old problem—this is a perfect time to assess our progress and focus on where we are headed and what we need to do to reach our goals. Although we still have a couple of months left in 2017, we are quite enthusiastic about all that 2018 has to offer.

This is the perfect time to think about renewing your commitment to ASRA. In 2018, we have several new and expanded benefits that make your membership more valuable than ever, although our membership prices will remain the same as 2017. ASRA membership runs on a calendar basis from January through December, so be sure to renew early so that you don't miss out on even a moment of your benefits. If you are a fellow, be sure to select the “Young Professional” membership, which provides you with 3 or 4 years of membership for one low cost. This is part of ASRA's commitment to support those new to the profession. Once you become part of the ASRA family, we hope you will continue your loyalty and pass those messages to physicians who follow in your footsteps. You'll receive notification of your membership renewal soon, so watch your mail!

You'll also want to renew your membership in order to receive your subscription to our highly cited peer-reviewed journal, Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (RAPM ). We are thrilled to announce that we will be increasing the frequency of publication to eight issues in 2018, with a goal to eventually reach 12 times per year. A steadily increasing number of submissions to RAPM, which reflects the growing prestige that publication in the journal carries, has resulted in an overflow of articles. Publishing more issues will help to ensure that the articles are released in a timely fashion so that you can put the evidence into practice as soon as possible. As the journal's Impact Factor continues to increase, we are excited about even more growth for this valued member benefit.

“Our ongoing goal is always to provide a wealth of practical and evidence-based resources to our members.”

This September, the ASRA Board had a retreat that included some time for strategic planning ideas for the coming 5 years. As a result of that process of taking stock, we have developed a new list of exciting projects that we plan to tackle in 2018. As the year progresses, I'll be sharing those new projects with you in this space.

Our ongoing goal is always to provide a wealth of practical and evidence-based resources to our members as we all work together to advance the science and practice of regional anesthesia to improve patient outcomes through research, education, and advocacy. If you read my column in August, you know that we have implemented a simpler, streamlined process for our research grants that enables potential researchers to submit a one-page letter of intent for review and approval before preparing a full-length research proposal. I also talked about the Faculty Development project that will, among other things, improve the resources available to members to become effective faculty members. This group's work is well under way with a variety of new offerings in the works.

In addition to these initiatives, ASRA is also growing our continuing medical education (CME) meetings, including offering the Introduction to Perioperative Point-of-Care Ultrasound Course twice in 2018 (February 24–25 in San Diego, California, and December 1–2, in Chicago, Illinois). The CME Committee Meeting works diligently to create a collection of offerings based on the latest information, evidence-based practice, and world-renowned faculty. We recently met and developed a vision and goals for this group to ensure continued success in meeting the needs of our members (see sidebar).

Probably the most exciting event we have planned for 2018 is our World Congress on Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine being held April 19–21 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. You can read more about the event in Meeting Chair Vincent Chan's article on page 10 and in an article by Narinder Rawal on page 13 that features the history of this event. We bill it as “five societies and four years in the making,” because it brings together the five sister societies in regional anesthesia and pain medicine across the globe every 4 years, with nearly double the normal number of sessions and activities and programming that will appeal to the global audience. Our goal is to learn from and share with one another as we acknowledge that ASRA does not represent the entire world in terms of regional anesthesia and pain medicine. Providers in North America have much to learn from our colleagues in Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe, and we look forward to learning what our counterparts are doing to improve patient care, wherever they practice. To that end, we will offer a discounted registration tier for attendees coming from low-resource countries, as defined by the World Bank. We will also offer live streaming of content for those who are unable to attend in person. These additional offerings are possible only through the support of our industry partners, so we sincerely thank them for their generosity.

With regard to our advocacy pillar, ASRA continues to advocate for our members by working closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). We recently submitted a letter to CMS regarding the 2018 Quality Payment Program Year 2 Proposed Rule with recommendations to offer flexibility and reduce burden of the program. The Practice Management Committee has developed materials to support, inform, and educate our members. ASRA has also collaborated with the American Society of Anesthesiologists to develop six pain quality measures that reflect the appropriate care and measurements that physician anesthesiologists and pain medicine practitioners provide as part of their services. These measures will be developed through a Technical Expert Committee of ASRA-ASA and will be submitted to CMS this month, and we will provide a copy of the recommendations on our website. Finally, as I close, I read with keen interest a recent article on radiofrequency denervation of the lumbar region in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The ASRA Board of Directors is reviewing this publication to formulate an appropriate response.

What else can ASRA be doing to help you provide the best care for your patients? If you have suggestions, please email me at And thank you for your support of ASRA!

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