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The American Society of Anesthesiologists is an educational, research and scientific association of physicians organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology and improve the care of the patient.


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December 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 12
SNAAC Education Committee: Challenge and Achievements Rafi Avitsian, M.D.

I believe all subspecialty societies related to anesthesiology and critical care have incorporated education as an important part of, or a strategy to fulfill, their mission statement. The Society for Neuroscience in Anesthesiology and Critical Care (SNACC) is no exception and regards the education committee as one of its key tools to “advance the art and science of the care of the neurologically impaired patient.” However, SNACC may be unique in the composition of its members who are not entirely and exclusively clinical anesthesiologists. Neuroscientists, basic science researchers and neurointensivists comprise an important part of the membership. Also, about 8 percent of members in SNACC are trainees, which create further diversity in the level of interest in education material. This adds to the responsibility of the education committee to fulfill part of the educational needs of trainees but not create the “too preliminary for us” impression for the more expert members.


On the other hand, most of what is being done in the society, in one way or another, is related to education, anyway. Organizing a productive educational meeting with hands-on workshops, researching for the best fellowship curriculum and creating clinical practice guidelines are examples of society activity that could not be separate from the core education values. Thus, one can argue that it is unnecessary to have an education committee as a separate entity since almost everything the society does is education-related. However, gathering educational material and updating the membership on the current studies and practices related to treatment of neurologically impaired patients is a task the education committee has taken on within SNACC.


Apart from the educational sessions at the annual meetings, currently there are two platforms where the educational material can be offered to the membership: the website and the newsletter. The education committee has concentrated its efforts primarily on the website for its educational content. A major task has been the review of previously uploaded educational discussions. We have come to the conclusion that uploading material on the website without updating them on a regular basis is similar to having an outdated, dusty library that no one uses. One of the main projects of the education committee was to renew the bibliography content of the SNACC website. The committee members, led by Drs. Laurel Moore and Deepak Sharma, acknowledged the extensive efforts of the previous bibliography designers; however, it seemed there were problems in updating the content and that the website was not as user-friendly as one would expect. After a long discussion and review of options, the committee decided to create a new bibliography system rather than updating the previous one. Listing the most commonly searched topics related to neuroscience in anesthesiology and critical care with some recent articles under each heading seemed like a simple solution. The committee realized, however, that having a link to the article would increase the simplicity of search results and ease of operation. After searching different options, the committee decided to use the PubMed online system for this purpose. A list of topics relevant to neuroanesthesia, neurocritical care and research in neuroscience was gathered and SNACC members prominent in each subject were identified. These experts agreed to provide a list of the most significant and updated key articles for their subjects. Subsequently, the SNACC administration webmaster created the online page listing the subjects as a link to another webpage with relevant articles. Another upgrade from the previous bibliography is the fact that each listed article has a link, which can open a page in PubMed with the article, making it easier for the interested researcher to access the exact article. Obviously permission was taken from the National Library of Medicine/National Center for Biotechnology Information (PubMed) to utilize their “collection” format for organizing submissions for the SNACC bibliography and allowing direct access to the abstracts for readers. The bibliography site was reviewed by an independent researcher and given very positive comments. Currently, the main focus is on keeping the bibliography material and articles updated by regular communication with contributing members. Feedback on utilization of the bibliography page is supplied by surveying the number of webpage hits on the site. Initially, use of this bibliography was restricted to members; however, it is now open to the public on a temporary basis upon registration. The website address will open the page for the SNACC website, and the bibliography can be found under the “Education/Research” menu.


Another online educational source is the “Chat With the Author” project. Members of the education committee identify new, interesting articles relevant to the SNACC mission and organize an online interview with the author. This format gives the author an opportunity to discuss the underlying research even beyond the limited scope of the publication itself and potentially answer some questions by the readers. The recorded interview is accessible through a link from the SNACC website. Although the committee members would prefer to have an interactive system where an online discussion could be started about the interview, they have yet to identify the best format to start the discussion.


Activity on the SNACC newsletter has increased. The new editor, Reza Gorji, M.D., has given the newsletter a new face by adding some educational material. It is the goal to have an “Education Corner” in the newsletter to add short, clinically relevant articles, including self-assessment questions. In the future, the committee is planning to incorporate CME articles in this newsletter.


The SNACC Education Committee is still expanding its efforts to improve the education portion of the SNACC website. We have realized however, that the key is to identify the subjects as well as the format that are needed and favored by members. Thus at this time, the committee is planning an active outreach through surveys and direct contact to the members during its annual meeting in order to identify what it can do to serve the membership in their educational needs. Our future activity will depend on our member’s requests.

Rafi Avitsian M.D. is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Section Head, Neuroanesthesia, Program Director, Neuroanesthesia Fellowship, Anesthesiology and Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.


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