Scientific and Educational Affairs: Opportunities Ahead

< Back

May 2014 Volume 78 Number 5
Scientific and Educational Affairs: Opportunities Ahead Beverly K. Philip, M.D., Vice President for Scientific Affairs

I am delighted to present my first report as ASA Vice President for Scientific Affairs (VPSA).


The VPSA leads ASA’s Division on Scientific Affairs, which includes the sections on Annual Meeting, Clinical Care, Education and Research, Journals, and Subspecialties. The leadership of these sections form the Committee on Professional Education Oversight (CPEO). Every committee of every section is active. Here are some Education- and Research-related highlights, and a brief view of opportunities ahead.


ASA’s annual meeting is the premier educational opportunity for our specialty. ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2013 attracted 15,305 registrants. This growth is directly related to the outstanding work done by the Committee on Annual Meeting and all its subcommittees, the volunteer physician members working together with our strong professional staff. A particular area of growth was international attendance, with more than 25 percent of physicians coming from 80 countries outside of the U.S. A comprehensive professional annual meeting (AM) assessment was conducted prior to and during this year’s meeting, which provided detailed information for immediate and longer-term improvements to make future meetings even better. Planning for ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2014 in New Orleans is robustly in progress, and the educational opportunities are exciting. The 2014 meeting will have expanded technology and communications offerings, and the popular online community will be back. Our international registrants will find new initiatives and services specifically dedicated to them. We’ll welcome our industry supporters and each other at the Saturday Reception to be held in the convention center exhibit hall, which will highlight the unique foods and ambiance of New Orleans. In the exhibit hall during the meeting, there will be additional events and activities so members can find out what’s new in our field from our industry partners.


At our annual meeting, ASA honors anesthesiologists’ outstanding achievements. Research accomplishments are recognized with the Excellence in Research Award. The CPEO observed there is no similar recognition for education and therefore has proposed a new ASA Excellence in Education Award. The proposed award, to be voted on by our House of Delegates in October, will be given for demonstrated excellence in teaching, development of new teaching methods and/or implementation of innovative educational programs in anesthesiology. The award will be open to U.S. and international ASA members for teaching students, residents, fellows or faculty. Twelve specific education criteria will be used by the selection committee, considering geographic and institutional diversity, as well as the nominees’ overall level of commitment to anesthesiology education, significance of the contribution to the specialty, impact on the practice and teaching of anesthesiology, and effectiveness as a role model in education.


ASA is the leader in providing education both for Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology® and for general CME, through its variety of online courses and in-person meetings. ASA is also working to continue to be the best. In November, 2013 Dr. Arnold Berry and I convened the ASA’s second Education Summit, with the goal of outlining the focus and activities for the 2015-17 Education Plan. The theme of the summit was “What Education Do Anesthesiologists Need for Future Practice? Identifying, Understanding, Adapting to and Embracing Change.” More than 40 ASA education leaders examined the current and future state of member learning needs across four domains:


  • Changes in the delivery of patient care (medical science).
  • Defining, measuring and improving value (system science).
  • Managing evolving models of team-based care (organization science).
  • Understanding and implementing new technology.


The next phases of the Education Plan development will include prioritizing the needs, creating a calendar for developing products through 2017, submitting the plan and budget for BOD and HOD approval, and will culminate with developing content into products.


Education is important to our subspecialty societies as well. ASA has seven formally recognized subspecialty societies: ASRA, SAMBA, SCA, SNACC, SOAP, SOCCA and SPA. Their presidents constitute our Committee on Specialty Societies (CSS). After ASA discontinued society management services, the specialties expressed concerns to ASA about the mutual relationship and also their interest in more communication and more support of their societies’ activities. In response, Dr. Fitch appointed a Subspecialty Societies Steering Committee, chaired by me as VPSA, to facilitate change. The CSS, ably led by Amr Abouleish, M.D., developed a list of educational and scientific needs important to these organizations. In November, the Administrative Council approved several recommendations arising from that list:


  • Offer of discounted CME to societies represented in the HOD or previously under management, including the seven recognized specialty societies as well as our academic specialty societies SEA, SAAA and AUA (Implemented).
  • Improved coordination of AM site logistics so that subspecialties can more effectively plan and promote their pre-AM meetings (Implemented).
  • Opportunity for the specialty societies to provide input to committee appointments for counterpart ASA subspecialty committees. These include the specialty committees in the Section on Subspecialties as well as the Educational Track and Abstract Review subcommittees of the Section on AM (In progress).
  • Hiring an Intersociety Relations Specialist to facilitate societies’ access and communication with ASA.


With the success of these activities, societies that represent additional subspecialty interests have also requested consideration. Joint sponsorship of the societies’ meeting CME with ASA is a frequent request. This spring, the CPEO will develop objective criteria to guide availability of the various educational and scientific opportunities. ASA is committed to develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with its subspecialty groups.


Research is a fundamental ASA priority, because it is new science that advances our medical specialty. The ASA Committee on Research, within the Division of Scientific Affairs, acts as the study section to review applications for grants that are offered by the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER), one of ASA’s related organizations. Research opportunities available to ASA members include “Mentored Research Training Grants” in basic and clinical or translational science, as well as in health services research jointly sponsored with the Anesthesia Quality Institute. “Research in Education Grants” and “Research Fellowship Grants” are also offered. Also in the Division on Scientific Affairs is the Section on Journals. ASA’s respected journal Anesthesiology consistently has the highest impact in the field.


None of these activities would be possible without the expert contributions of ASA’s Department of Education staff. These professionals work with the member committees, editorial boards and ASA leadership to develop the programs that contribute to a member’s lifelong learning. Please visit ASA’s Education Center at for a course catalog of all ASA’s programs and a record of your ASA CME credit in “My Transcript.”

Beverly K. Philip, M.D. is Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, and Founding Director, Day Surgery Unit, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.