|I am honored to serve as president of SAAA and AAAC. As the leaders of academic anesthesiology we have a significant opportunity during the next few years to improve care and decrease cost of perioperative care, while at the same time assuring a healthy future for our specialty. My goals as president are to develop teams to address the following issues: solidifying the role of anesthesiology as the leading specialty for perioperative and intraoperative medicine; work with ASA to strengthen education and practice in the perioperative surgical home; enhance the desire of anesthesiologists to improve the foundation of knowledge in our specialty; partner with FAER to improve funding for education research; develop metrics to assess training quality that are more robust than currently available surrogates (e.g. Doximity); and strengthen our ability to deliver education content and professional development for academic anesthesiology leadership.
Our patients deserve our engagement in their care throughout their perioperative continuum. In order to solidify our role, SAAA will need to encourage the Anesthesiology RRC (and ACGME) and ABA to evolve toward Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine training and certification for our increased role throughout the perioperative period. Consistent with this increased education, certification and care, it was the strong majority vote of those SAAA members who attended the 2014 SAAA meeting, to work with our ASA Academic Director to support a request for a name change for our specialty from “Anesthesiology” to “Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine” to the ASA board of directors and house of delegates. This evolution of our specialty is a very exciting opportunity, which if we work together, will result in improved patient outcomes, while decreasing the overall cost of care.
As leaders of our academic programs in Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, we have the opportunity and responsibility to improve the foundation of knowledge in our specialty. While ASA has done a great job in providing anesthesiologists with continuing education and in the area of advocacy, there are opportunities to further strengthen our partnership and further increase its support of scholarly work in our specialty. Without research we are at risk of dissolving as a specialty and becoming technicians. We have an opportunity to work with ASA to enhance celebration of important research being done by anesthesiologists in the US, through more frequent news releases and celebration of research accomplishment at the SAAA and ASA meetings.
We are fortunate that despite the many challenges in US healthcare, we are seeing excellent interest in Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine among top graduates of US medical schools. These young new members of our specialty seek our help to identify differences between the many training programs in their preferred geographic areas. Currently they rely on the opinions of anesthesiologists in their school or local community, research rankings which bear an uncertain relation to education and training, flawed survey tools (e.g. Doximity) or worse yet, depending on uncontrolled websites (e.g. scutdoctor.com). We can improve this situation. SAAA has an opportunity to serve as better mentors to these aspiring anesthesiologists and provide an information resource that is more robust than the current popularity polls, which are largely dependent on the size and age of the alumni group than the quality of a program.
Finally, it has been amazing to watch the growth in size and influence of our society over the past 10 years. The evolution from SAAC/AAPD to SAAA was visionary. With this transition our society has done an excellent job in providing education and professional development for anesthesiology chairs, core program directors and subspecialty directors. However, we still have opportunity to improve the expertise and professional development of our department administrators and education coordinators. I am hopeful that over the coming two years we can develop a pathway to achieve these goals for our department administrators and education coordinators, in a fashion that respects the primary society mission, as stated in our bylaws.
I look forward to working with SAAA, AAAC, AACPD and AASPD council members to achieve these and our other strategic goals in the coming two years.
Jeffrey R. Kirsch, MD