Getting Lucky with ASRA

By Rajnish Gupta    Dec 6, 2018

I feel truly lucky to be part of the amazing ASRA family and community. People often ask me how they too can get involved in ASRA and how I did it. This inspired me to share my story about what brought me to this organization and what draws me to return every year. 

Back when I was a junior faculty member at Vanderbilt University in the late 2000s, I had started to attend ASRA meetings regularly. I was an early adopter of ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia in my practice, and I was also recently appointed Associate Director of our fledgling Acute Pain Service. I needed help and I was a sponge, ready to soak up all the information I could get my hands on. After every meeting, I came home full of ideas and enthusiasm, not to mention the incredible fun I had hanging out with new friends from ASRA. At the time, I was also doing an anesthesia podcast called “The World of Anesthesiology Podcast” with my friend Nahel Saied. In 2010, I took a chance and decided I would use my iPhone and interview some of the speaking faculty, ASRA board members, and even some of the vendors for the podcast.  I had never done this before, but I thought what was the worst that could happen? I can be a shy person, so I was very nervous about interviewing these important people. But after stalking the halls and ambushing anyone whose name I recognized, I got lucky! I ended up interviewing some amazing people! I interviewed Dr. Narinder Rawal, Dr. Santhanam Suresh, Dr. Stuart Grant, and Dr. Chris Wu!  (Incidentally, all of these people are good friends now.)

Dr. Wu was so amazed by my efforts and the interesting way in which I was trying to share information that he suggested I apply for the Communications Committee. The next year, I submitted my application during the request period and I was in!  Early in my time on the Committee, I decided not to keep quiet.  I started sharing my opinions and thoughts on ways ASRA could improve. One of my early criticisms was the ASRA website. I also suggested that the leadership of ASRA felt removed from the general membership and unapproachable for most people.  I expressed my thoughts that social media might be a good avenue for enhancing communication, collaboration, and familiarity between ASRA members and leaders.  Ultimately, a new Website and Social Media Subcommittee was created, and I was put in charge.

That’s when the hard work really started.  I spent the next two years in that role trying to act on the suggestions I made. We launched a brand new website that was mobile friendly and more visually appealing. We got ASRA actively engaged on Twitter and Facebook with the Board members regularly participating on social media and developing their own voices.  We started the ASRA RAPP podcast to help continue the conversations we enjoy so much at the meetings throughout the year. It was hard work, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

My relationships with the ASRA Communications Committee and the Board set me up to broach the idea of the ASRA Coags app. This was an internal project we were working on at Vanderbilt, but I felt strongly that this needed to be available to everyone and it needed to come from ASRA.  Many were skeptical, but Dr. Joe Neal, the ASRA president at the time (and also now a friend), shared my vision and saw real value in the app platform. That app has now been downloaded more than 38,000 times worldwide!

Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, ASRA’s current president, had been watching the work I did and asked me to Chair the ASRA 2019 Spring Meeting.  I couldn’t believe it! What started out as me interviewing Chris Wu with my iPhone turned into allowing me to chair one of the meetings I enjoyed so much attending.  It was both a shock and a huge honor.

So how do you get involved in ASRA? By simply getting involved.  

In the words of Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

My advice to those wanting to get involved is: Speak up. Meet some new people. Share your ideas. Work hard.

 ASRA has so many opportunities for members to get involved and make themselves known, that anyone who is motivated can make an impact. Start with the special interest groups, apply for a committee position, submit an abstract, apply to be an associate faculty member, or just make a podcast. You might get lucky too!