We are only halfway through 2020, yet our planet has already encountered a vast array of natural and unnatural events that seem certain to cement this year in the memories of all who are fortunate enough to navigate through the perils that have been thrust upon us. This year and the pandemic response will certainly impart an impactful stamp on the lives of all of us in a fashion similar to the way that the Vietnam War and Great Depression molded previous generations. Obviously, the global pandemic is now forefront in the minds of anyone asked to provide healthcare and all aspects of medicine and normal life have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. However, we have also been forced to accept and acknowledge the racial inequalities that exist in our society as we are confronted with horrific images of ongoing brutality. In the background, climate change and environmental catastrophe is looming in the not-too-distant future and international relationships between global superpowers seem to be increasingly tense. In the United States, a fall election threatens to create further divisions between groups of people that have seemingly lost the ability to maintain perspective and have a conversation while instead resorting to childish taunts, chants, and violence.
As we all start to engage in a new “normal” and work diligently to attend to the backlog of surgical procedures and patient encounters that await us, we are presented with an opportunity to reshape what our new “normal” might look like.
ASRA and its members have been significantly impacted by all that is going on in the world around us. Our spring annual meeting was cancelled, and, while the disappointment associated with this cancellation obviously pales in comparison to the tragedy occurring in the lives of many, it is still true that we have missed an opportunity to engage with colleagues, present our academic work, inspire future generations of pain management specialists, and celebrate the accomplishments of our peers.
In light of these challenges, the group of volunteers working for the ASRA News determined that a “Special Edition” should be released that dually addressed ASRA members' contributions to and experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic and celebrated the accomplishments of our colleagues, mentors, and mentees. In some cases, these awards recognize the fantastic work done by those just starting their careers and, hopefully, by recognizing this work, these junior scientists will be inspired to continue their important work. In other cases, recognition is provided for decades of service to the society and profession. In the case of the Trailblazer Awards, recognition is provided for the fantastic accomplishments of some of the women that have made this society great. The stories of these award winners are inspiring, and they serve as models for the next generation of great physicians.
As we all start to engage in a new “normal” and work diligently to attend to the backlog of surgical procedures and patient encounters that await us, we are presented with an opportunity to reshape what our new “normal” might look like. In many cases, we are starting from near zero and have the singular chance to decide that now is the time to move toward a more sustainable operating room or provide opportunities for a colleague or under-represented group to lead and inspire. This is the time to shift your approach to your day and, with this new perspective of what is truly important, ensure your interactions with others are accompanied by a heightened degree of civility and compassion.
Finally, now is a fantastic time to become a member of ASRA, renew your membership, or provide a membership for your residents/fellows. This organization is one that depends on the engagement of its membership base, and there are a great number of fantastic people working for ASRA and depending on you and the financial resources that your membership provides.
Thank you all. Stay safe, and I hope to see you soon.