Survey Says: Never a Better Time to Be a Member

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March 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 3
Survey Says: Never a Better Time to Be a Member John M. Zerwas, M.D. ASA President

ASA members understand what it means to be indispensable. They recognize the work ASA does at the state and national level to support and change legislation. They recognize the importance of ASA finding every opportunity to advocate for changes that improve patient safety. And they recognize ASA’s role in providing education to help physicians find a little certainty in uncertain times.

At the end of 2012, ASA’s membership total surpassed 50,000 – an all-time high. Anesthesiologists clearly value membership in ASA and recognize the power of working together. Will ASA members agree on every issue? Of course not. Medicine is not the cohesive profession it once was. Physicians are being pulled in so many directions that differences often define them – large and small groups, employed and independent, young and old, rural and metro, politically left and politically right. It’s the ASA’s job to find common ground, places where physicians can unite and put the profession ahead of their differences.

In order for ASA to be successful, the organization must provide value and exceed member expectations. Products and services must be of unique benefit to the membership and be member-driven and member-focused. A member-needs survey was conducted in summer 2012, and from the research findings the results showed that nearly one-third of respondents overall (31 percent) felt that the value of ASA membership was greater than the cost, compared to 23 percent who felt that the value of membership was less than the cost. Meanwhile, 46 percent felt that the value and cost of membership were aligned. Findings on value were consistent with findings from the member-needs survey conducted in 2009; three years ago, 35 percent rated the value of membership as higher than the cost, compared to 20 percent who felt it did not align with cost.

Furthermore, the 2012 survey asked how relevant ASA is to a member’s professional life. Eighty-seven percent of respondents felt that the Society was very (40 percent) or somewhat relevant (47 percent). These responses track closely with responses from 2009, when 85 percent of respondents felt that the Society was very or somewhat relevant. However, one difference between the two years is the increase in the percentage of members who felt that ASA was very relevant (36 percent in 2009 to 40 percent in 2012).

How do we continue to build a Society where value exceeds cost and relevance is very high? ASA was built upon member involvement, and today ASA still relies on members to provide the direction and leadership necessary to keep its programs and services relevant to the profession. ASA is a premier medical specialty society as a direct result of the active participation of its members. Nearly all members contribute in some fashion to further the Society. Members define ASA goals, approve the budget and develop clinical practice statements. They lecture at ASA educational activities and represent the Society to outside organizations, often as volunteers.

Members serve on 90-plus committees covering the educational, research, scientific, advocacy and organizational aspects of the Society. Most ASA objectives are accomplished at the committee level, and committees produce most of the products and services that the Society distributes and sells. Ad hoc task forces and workgroups are appointed throughout the year to address specific and emerging issues. Those participating in ad hoc task forces and workgroups typically have special expertise and spend considerable time on their work. Fifty thousand-plus members power ASA with their service, commitment and diversity of contributions.

So in a time of busy lives, constant change, and reform and administrative burdens, how do we stay the envy of other medical groups?

With Advocacy
In 2013, ASA’s general areas of focus involve the role of physicians in the delivery of health care, patient access to high-quality health care and payment-related issues. Through our powerful, collective voice, legislators in both Houses of Congress understand how their actions affect the quality of care for their constituents, and patients clearly see how anesthesiologists make modern medicine possible. Ninety-one percent of the 2012 member-needs survey respondents agreed that ASA is a trusted advocate for the field of anesthesiology. It is because of member passion and support that ASA is able to effectively represent the interests of anesthesiologists on Capitol Hill.

With Education
Next to anesthesiologists themselves, no one knows the value of quality medical education better than ASA. In fact, 67 percent of the 2012 member needs-survey respondents said they participated in ASA CME opportunities over the last two years. The Society has been working diligently to develop its suite of continuing medical education offerings. Since anesthesia is the sole focus, members benefit from specialized programs that are peer-driven and peer-reviewed. From lifelong learning products such as the Anesthesiology Continuing Education (ACE) program to webinars on cutting-edge topics, ASA is the place to hone your skills from residency to retirement. Maintenance of Certification (MOCA®) has created a new opportunity for ASA to continue to be an indispensable resource to all anesthesiologists.

With Information
Whether your interest is in the latest research break-throughs or regulatory discussions on Capitol Hill, ASA keeps members informed. The in-depth monthly NEWSLETTER, the weekly electronic publication ASAP and timely, subject-specific emails keep members apprised of the latest in anesthesiology from every conceivable angle. Ninety percent of the 2012 survey respondents agreed that ASA is effective in keeping members informed of the top issues in the field; and 85 percent of respondents agreed that they turn to ASA for scientific and technical information throughout the year. ASA also is vigilant in keeping the public informed so patients can easily make the connection between the presence of a highly trained anesthesiologist and a quality outcome.

The success of the Society is a balancing act between the expertise and engagement of both ASA and ASA members, and as long as everyone remains flexible, focused and dedicated, ASA will remain the top professional organization for physicians in the field of anesthesiology.

John M. Zerwas, M.D. is an anesthesiologist with Greater Houston Anesthesiology, PA, Houston, Texas. He is a member of the Texas House of Representatives.