What Have You Done for Me Lately? – A Personal Perspective on the Benefits of ASRA Membership for Members
May 1, 2021
As a member of the ASRA Membership Committee, occasionally I get asked the question “Why should I be a part of ASRA?” Over my years of ASRA membership, I have come to learn that this simple question elicits a not-so-simple answer. While I cannot speak for others’ experience, I find that through my own journey, ASRA membership has continued to deliver a multitude of benefits from my training years to this day.
“What can ASRA do…for trainee members?”
I joined ASRA in 2011 during my CA2 year in residency, mostly because I suspected I wanted to subspecialize in acute pain management, but also because I had $40 that was burning a hole in my pocket. Little did I know that taking advantage of the trainee membership rate would open up a world of educational opportunities. For example, ASRA actively promotes resident education through the development of evidence-based educational materials, fellowship director-curated reading lists, and meet-and-greet opportunities for those interested in fellowship programs. From my personal experience attending annual meetings, it was quite obvious that ASRA faculty have a truly sincere desire to help all trainees gain skills vital to clinical practice and propel those of us who wished for more specialized regional anesthesia and acute pain training. Moreover, members of the ASRA community appeared to have a genuine universal interest in networking with other like-minded regional anesthesia enthusiasts. I know now from personal experience that these resulting bonds continue to grow year after year. Equally as important, leaders within ASRA encourage and support trainee participation in the organization. Residents are invited to contribute to ASRA by submitting and presenting abstracts for original cutting-edge research, joining committees, and identifying ways in which the organization can better serve trainees.
“What can ASRA do…for anesthesiologist members?”
As a practicing anesthesiologist, ASRA has provided me with resources that have been critical to my clinical practice. The image galleries, “How I Do It” articles in ASRA News, and technique descriptions on www.asra.com provide concise and practical clinical information. The availability of easy-to-use ASRA reference information on a mobile device has also influenced my practice. Not a week goes by where I don’t use the ASRA Coags app to aid in anticoagulant-related regional anesthesia decision-making. ASRA has also created quickly-accessible apps for Time Out and LAST. Likewise, ASRA continually produces and updates numerous clinical guidelines for the practice of regional anesthesia, the most recent being the LAST guidelines which provided a foundation for updates to crisis management workflows. The bedrock of ASRA publications is the Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine journal, the official journal of ESRA, LASRA, AOSRA, AFSRA, which has grown from a bimonthly to a monthly publication and currently has an impact factor of 7.015. Finally, the webinars, ASRA News Facebook live, and podcasts discuss interesting and often thought-provoking concepts, freely accessible for members. As can be expected from the plethora of lectures, problem-based learning sessions, and workshops available, the ASRA annual meetings are a highlight on the yearly calendar. The annual meetings also provide a fantastic opportunity to network with down to earth and surprisingly available thought leaders and pioneering researchers in the fields of acute and chronic pain. While we all eagerly await the return of the in-person meeting, ASRA’s resilient membership has shown through ASRA Worldwide 2020 that delivery of a high-quality, highly interactive meeting is also attainable in a virtual format. Whether you just need a review of current evidence-based practice, have a budding or side interest in regional anesthesia, or are on the cutting edge of clinical practice and research, ASRA has something for you!
“What can ASRA do…for every ASRA member?”
Clearly, ASRA offers excellent content in regional anesthesia and pain medicine. Sometimes however, one wants more than just professional content from a society. One wants the opportunity to contribute, to be included and to feel part of something greater than oneself. I believe ASRA does this by 1) providing opportunity for active participation, 2) offering a culture of inclusivity and diversity, and 3) promoting its members.
Opportunities for Participation
Ranging from education to PoCUS to environmental sustainability and global health, ASRA has 23 special interest groups (SIGs), with more on the way. Membership in SIGs is open to any active ASRA member. Members who participate in SIGs can contribute to the society in concrete ways and influence the activity of the society and their peers. Similarly, ASRA has 13 committees through which members can participate through application every September. Many members describe committee participation as one of the most rewarding experiences in the society. The fields of acute pain, chronic pain, and the use of ultrasound guidance continues to grow at an amazing pace, and this new horizon provides numerous exciting areas to explore in our subspecialty. If there is an area of interest that is not being met by current SIGs or committees, ASRA is interested to consider your idea for a new SIG!
Culture of Inclusivity and Diversity
As a society, ASRA champions inclusivity and promotes diversity. People of color chair 36% of our committees; 18% of our committee chairs are women. The percentage of female faculty presenting at the annual pain meeting increased from 13% in 2018 to 42% in 2019. The LGBTQA SIG seeks to promote a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQA physicians, patients, and students involved in the treatment of acute and chronic pain. Although much work is yet to be done, ASRA is committed to a welcoming environment for all.
An ASRA Mentor Match program was recently established, where ASRA members can connect and serve as mentors and mentees and share experiences with each other. So far, 55 mentors and 97 mentees are benefitting from this experience. Members with a passion for teaching who wish to be instructors at ASRA events can apply to be an associate faculty; as ASRA associate faculty, members can contribute to ASRA’s educational mission while fine-tuning their teaching skills under the mentorship of a more experienced ASRA faculty member. For those members interested in research, the Carol Koller Memorial Research Grant, Chronic Pain Medicine Research Grant, Early-Stage Investigator Award, and Graduate Student Award provide the opportunity for monetary support for research that falls into the research priorities of the society. Last but not least, the Trailblazer Awards in 2020 set the stage for launching an increased awareness campaign for the need to recruit women and other minorities into the society’s awards programs.
Turns out what ASRA has done for us lately is. . . quite a lot.
Alberto Ardon, MD, MPH, is senior associate consultant and assistant professor at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL.