President’s Message Looking Back and Looking Forward
As I write my last newsletter message as ASRA president, it is my turn to say thank you to each and every one of our members, all of our volunteers in committees, and our board members who enable ASRA to be energetic. It has been a pleasure and joy to work with the wonderful ASRA staff. I am humbled, privileged, and honored to have served in this role and promote the mission of ASRA: advancing the science and practice of regional anesthesia and pain medicine to improve patient outcomes through research, education, and advocacy.
We provided resources, research funding, and education to more than 6,000 individuals in 2018 alone.
At the close of the 44th Annual Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine Meeting in April (#ASRAspring19), I will provide an update on the Society’s state of affairs. I hope to see you there in person, or it will be available as an online archive following the meeting.
We all should be very proud of ASRA’s accomplishments during the past several years. We closed out 2018 with more than 5,330 members—a record for the history of our organization. Much of our success has been directly because of those members and their dedication to the organization, especially through their roles on committees and special interest groups. One of the goals has been to provide more opportunities for diverse new faces to participate, and we’re happy to report that more than half of the committee appointments were to new members this past cycle.
One example of our volunteer participation is the success and reach of the historic 2018 World Congress on Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine in April in New York City. This amazing event broke all attendance records with 2,750 attendees, the highest-ever number of abstracts, and truly accomplished our goals of inclusivity and international participation. For this event alone, ASRA assumed a leadership role and provided scholarships to reduce registration fees for participants from developing countries. It was a pleasure to work with Dr. Vincent Chan on this meeting, who again volunteered his time to serve as World Congress chair.
Figure 1. The World Congress on Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine is held every four years and brings together the five regional anesthesia and pain medicine societies. From left: Maria Minerva Calimag, MD, PhD, president, Asian and Oceanic Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine; Maria Isabel Vasquez, MD, president, Latinoamerican Society of Regional Anaesthesia; Ezzat Aziz, MD, FRSA, president, African Society of Regional Anaesthesia; Jose De Andres, MD, PhD, FIPP, EDRA, president, European Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Therapy; Asokumar Buvanendran, MD, president, ASRA; and Vincent Chan, MD, FRCPC, FRCA, Planning Committee chair, 2018 World Congress on Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.
In the past two years, we also developed and expanded our education and CME offerings. We received recognition for our education with the prestigious Profile of Excellence Award from the American Association of Medical Society Executives for our innovative course, Introduction to Perioperative Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS). The immense popularity of this course has prompted ASRA to increase this offering from twice in 2018 to three times in 2019. We also have invested in and implemented new educational formats and online activities.
ASRA continues to support our faculty by developing mentorship and training opportunities through our Faculty Development Committee. Those initiatives will further enhance our faculty in educational sessions and enable our researchers to grow as they communicate their findings and implications on practice.
ASRA is building the resources to support practice management as well. The Practice Management Committee has developed several resources housed on our Practice Management Resource Center, and in 2019, we offer online seminars in collaboration with Lake Forest Graduate School of Management of Negotiation, Human Resources, and Practice Finances. ASRA has responded to various issues from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration, and the Joint Commission, among others. We’ve had a year of collaboration with the American Society of Anesthesiologists on regional anesthesia and chronic pain portfolios.
Figure 2. ASRA’s Practice Management Resource Center provides information on everything from coding and payments to adding value to your practice, with more resources being added regularly.
The field of regional anesthesiology is recognizing ASRA more than ever as well. Another example of our increased reach and influence is that, in 2018, our Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine journal had the fifth highest impact factor among all anesthesiology journals. In 2019, all members will receive a monthly issue of this very prestigious journal as part of your benefits (Figure 3). The journal published new anticoagulation guidelines for both regional anesthesia and chronic pain, including updates of our popular ASRA Coags 2.0 app (Figure 4). We have continued our relationship with the European Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Therapy and are working with other international societies to broaden the reach of the journal. The Academy of Regional Anesthesia of India has subscribed its members to the journal, and several other Asian countries are considering this opportunity.
To support ongoing research in our field, ASRA has expanded its research program to include the Early-Stage Investigator Award (up to $30,000) and Graduate Student Award (up to $10,000), both available annually. These join ASRA’s Carl Koller Memorial Research Grant and Chronic Pain Medicine Grant, which are awarded biennially and grant up to $200,000 each cycle.
Figure 3: Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine is now published monthly.
We have also made great strides in the advocacy arena by participating in the American Medical Association annual meeting of the house of delegates as one of the newest members of the Specialty and Service Society as well as the Pain and Palliative Medicine Specialty Section Council. As part of this work, ASRA has supported a resolution on timely referral to pain management specialists to include interventional pain and a proposal advocating against misapplication of CDC’s opioid guidelines by pharmacies.
Figure 4. ASRA Coags 2.0 combines the anticoagulation guidelines for acute pain and chronic pain into one app. It is available from iTunes and GooglePlay.
In all, we provided resources, research funding, and education to more than 6,000 individuals in 2018 alone. I am sure that my successor, Dr. Eugene Viscusi, will have a very full agenda to continue to move the organization farther. I am proud to have played the role I have, and I look forward to seeing the new heights ASRA will accomplish.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this key role and to all of the dedicated members of the Society. As I say my final thank you and goodbye, I look forward to a bright future for ASRA, and I hope each one of you will strive to be part of this great, vibrant society.