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October 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 10
Subspecialty News: SEA - Excellence In Patient Care Through Education Ira Todd Cohen, M.D., M.Ed., FAAP, President
Society for Education in Anesthesia



“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, […] we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”



So opens Dickens’ tale of the French Revolution.We might not be facing such a dramatic or violent upheaval, but health care and medical education in the United States are facing changes the likes of which we have never seen. Stemming from espoused public dissatisfaction with physician competence and medical outcomes, our government has demanded accountability from graduate, postgraduate and continuing education programs. In response, the accrediting agencies for these entities have introduced numerous innovations to measure and ensure the successful training of doctors. The Society for Education in Anesthesia (SEA) is prepared to meet these challenges and address the coming changes.


SEA’s mission is to support, enrich, and advance anesthesia education and those who teach. For the past three decades, the society has been fulfilling this mission by preparing its members for each new academic hurdle and regulatory requirement. The most recent requirements put forth by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medicine Education (ACGME) and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medicine Education (ACCME) have generated a clarion call to step up our game. Initially, the ACGME and ACCME shifted their focus from what and how we teach to the results or outcomes of our teaching. This focus on outcomes has culminated in speciality-specific Educational Milestones, which are developmental steps of knowledge and skill acquisition based on competency, not time. Concurrently, the ACGME has introduced new, multilayered, continuous accreditation methodologies that it has packaged under the rubric: the Next Accreditation System (NAS). The NAS, a name soon to be an anachronistic designation, contains many new requirements, committees and acronyms such as: CLER (clinical learning environment review), EPA (entrustable professional activities) and PEC (program evaluation committee). SEA and its members have been actively involved in formulating anesthesiology-specific responses to these new instructional and administrative hoops.


SEA serves its membership and the larger anesthesiology community through two national conferences: a one-day pre-ASA annual meeting session in the fall, and a three- to four-day meeting each spring. These conferences, which are workshop and small group teaching “heavy,” allow attendees to explore and participate in different aspects of learning and teaching, as well as encourage participants to create their own curriculum content and evaluation tools. Recently, major tracks in these conferences have been dedicated to addressing the impending alterations to learner and program evaluation. Our 2013 spring meeting “Milestones & Assessment: Are You Ready?” began the hard work of transforming the new mandates into actionable items. SEA also serves our specialty through its esteemed four-day Workshop on Teaching, interactive website, research, and working with other anesthesia societies, organizations and departments.


Most important, SEA is a collaborative and inclusive community of teachers and learners dedicated to excellence in patient care through education. We are an organization that supports our colleagues, encourages their development and celebrates their achievements. We welcome innovation and creativity and actively seek out unique solutions for our speciality. We view the changes that are coming to medicine and medical education programs as opportunities for growth and improvement. We encourage our fellow anesthesiologists not to feel as though they are being marched off to the guillotine. It may not be a far, far better place that we are going to, but it could be much better than we expect.



Ira Todd Cohen, M.D., M.Ed., FAAP is Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics, Director of Education, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.


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