August 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 8
Letter to the Editor

Responsibility to Our Education

The May ASA Newsletter is dedicated to Patient Safety. “It’s all about the patient because we have no other reason to exist” was Dr. Martin’s opening passage, taken from a presentation by ASA President Roger Litwiller, M.D. at the 2004 ASA annual meeting. In his “Administrative Update” on page 6 of the May issue, Arnold Berry, M.D. discusses that “As a responsibility of our profession, physicians are obligated to provide self-regulation to ensure that we continue to meet the expectations… of our patients.” Finally, on page 48, Neal H. Cohen, M.D. discusses the issues from an academic standpoint, referring to the role of academic departments in the education of future anesthesiologists. Educating anesthesiology residents has become more complex.

As academic anesthesiologists, the authors are optimistic and encourage future anesthesiologists to engage in a profession that we still find both stimulating and very rewarding. Nonetheless, we are concerned that the road to board certification is becoming quite cumbersome, paved with multiple rules and regulations. It is inevitable that education continues to evolve with innovative methods to objectively assess skills and knowledge to protect our patients; however, we feel that the decision from the ABA, and similarly of the ASA, of insisting upon such a large body of “knowledge and skills” is demanding. We agree with the ABA’s desire to hold board certification as a high and respected standard, but hope that alternative educational options can be implemented to alleviate the demand on time and cost of the process. We personally believe that “perfect sense” is prevailing over “good sense.” While being understanding of the new requirements for our current and future graduates, we wonder how to improve such processes, making them less cumbersome, less complicated and less expensive.

In particular, it may be possible to integrate certain educational tools into the core curricula of the respective academic programs; this could help defray some of the hefty costs of the educational requirements. Also, state anesthesiology organizations could develop equally important education in safety programs to help replace ASA’s personal modules. As another consideration, private or academic anesthesia groups could possibly implement new steps in system processes to fit the case report requirements. Finally, academic institutions or health care facilities, which credential and privilege anesthesiologists, could, in fact, be primarily responsible in facilitating such continuing education for those applying for ABA recertification. Thus, the burden of education and continuing education could be spread among many institutions, each contributing in its own fashion, which could greatly facilitate both the needs of the individual physician and the welfare of patients.

Davide Cattano, M.D., Ph.D., Kathy C. Normand, M.D., Carin A. Hagberg, M.D.

Houston, Texas

The views and opinions expressed in the “Letters to the Editor” are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASA or the NEWSLETTER Editorial Board.  Letters submitted for consideration should not exceed 300 words in length.  The Editor has the authority to accept or reject any letter submitted for publication.  Personal correspondence to the Editor by letter or e-mail must be clearly indicated as “Not for Publication” by the sender.  Letters must be signed (although name may be withheld on request) and are subject to editing and abridgement. Send letters to