What’s New In ... Mentoring and Advocacy: Ensuring a Solid Future for Anesthesiology

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December 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 12
What’s New In ... Mentoring and Advocacy: Ensuring a Solid Future for Anesthesiology Elizabeth Rebello, M.D., Director
Mentoring Program

Adamina G. Podraza, M.D.

Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., Chair
Committee on Professional Diversity

ASA is dedicated to the education and promotion of its members so they can achieve their full potential as physicians and leaders. To accomplish these goals, both the organization and its members must learn to be effective advocates – for their patients and for the specialty of anesthesiology. Effective advocacy is difficult, however, without recognizing the importance of diversity. As demographics of the U.S. population change and the number of women and minorities entering the specialty of anesthesiology increases, efforts to incorporate this diverse membership will result in an improved understanding of and connection to our patients. Having decision-makers who are fully engaged and personally aware of the unique barriers and opportunities different patients bring to the table creates organizational policies that will result in improved health care.


A diverse leadership also yields a more effective advocacy message for our organization: it shows the true face of ASA and demonstrates to legislators and regulators that as physician anesthesiologists, we provide the best care for all of our patients.


The Committee on Professional Diversity has been active in two initiatives that will increase participation, involvement and input from ASA members from diverse backgrounds. To help connect these members to the ASA leadership and governance process, we are working to pair interested members with ASA leaders at various ASA meetings. To help build long-term mentoring relationships that will foster future leaders, we also fund mentor-mentee projects through a robust mentoring program.


Stimulating Interest in Organized Medicine and Physician Advocacy

As part of a focus on promoting mentoring in advocacy, Adamina Podraza, M.D. shadowed Jeffrey Plagenhoef, M.D., during the 2013 ASA Legislative Conference. In the words of Dr. Podraza:

“Shadowing Dr. Plagenhoef while attending the ASA Legislative Conference for the first time let me meet many politically active members of the anesthesia community. This opportunity allowed me – a minority female physician from a rural community in Illinois – to actively participate in the legislative process. I spoke with legislators about truth and transparency, rural pass-through, Medicare payments and drug shortages. I very much appreciated the opportunity and Dr. Plagenhoef’s mentorship. He taught me that involvement with your state anesthesia society is extremely important, and that we must listen to others about how they succeeded in solving problems and passing legislation in their states. Whether you are a medical student, resident/fellow, junior faculty member or in private practice, you can benefit from an ASA mentor. I truly feel I can be a more effective advocate for myself and my patients as a result of my experience.”


The committee plans to facilitate further mentorship opportunities between ASA leadership and members of diverse backgrounds as it recognizes the significance of diversity to effective advocacy. Please contact committee chair Jerome Adams, M.D. at jeromeadamsmd@hotmail.com if you are an ASA member who would like to gain experience in physician advocacy.


Dr. Podraza and Dr. Plagenhoef


ASA Mentoring Program

A mentorship program was established to foster enduring ASA engagement on the part of members from a diverse background. The goal of the ASA Committee on Professional Diversity Mentoring Program is to provide a structural framework by which mentees can learn the administrative, executive, educational, and political components and processes of ASA. The mentoring award provides funding (up to $5,000) to mentor-mentee pairs to develop a project in a mutually agreed-upon area of interest. The project may be oriented to scientific or clinical research, an educational endeavor or a political/organizational subject, for a period of one to three years. The overall aim is to enhance the leadership potential and active involvement of the mentee within ASA so as to create effective future leaders and advocates. Award recipients are encouraged to actively participate in ASA committees and have their project featured at the ASA annual meeting. Though not required, some of the mentees have received matching funds from their institutions.


Because one of the primary goals of the mentorship program is to promote ASA involvement and advocacy, mentees are expected to participate in and report back on an advocacy-related activity over the timeframe of their project. Suggested activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Shadowing a leader within ASA or your state component society at a meeting.
  • Attending the ASA legislative conference with a state delegation.
  • Giving a presentation on ASA and advocacy.


The following mentoring award recipients were recognized at the Committee on Professional Diversity meeting at the 2013 ASA annual meeting.


Current Award Recipients (Mentor/Mentee):

  1. Bozana Alexander, M.D./Apryl Martin, M.D. 
    Rush Medical College/ John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital of Cook County
  2. Vilma Joseph, M.D./Iyabo Muse, M.D.
    Albert Einstein C ollege of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center
  3. Nicholas C.K. Lam, M.D./Kathleen Lopez Reyes, M.D.
    University of New Mexico School of Medicine
  4. Gerard Manecke, M.D./Anna Bovill Shapiro, M.D.
    University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine
  5. Tracey Straker, M.D., M.P.H./Louvonia Boone, M.D 
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center
  6. Gregory Kerr, M.D., M.B.A./Jennifer Brown M.D. Ph.D
    Weill Cornell Medical College
  7. Gerard Manecke, M.D./Rekha Chandrabose, M.D.
    University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine


Now, more than ever, physician involvement in organized medicine and advocacy is needed to protect our future. Having leaders who reflect our patients and our members is essential if we are to have success in this regard and remain a strong organization. We encourage ASA members to assist and inspire colleagues to get involved and think about being a mentor yourself. If you are a member in search of opportunities to get involved, please consider applying for one of the aforementioned opportunities, or reach out to a member on the ASA Committee on Professional Diversity. There are many opportunities available within ASA, and we all must work to make our organization as representative and as strong as it can be.

Elizabeth Rebello, M.D. is Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.


Adamina G. Podraza, M.D. is anAnesthesiologist, Morris Hospital and Deerpath Orthopedic Surgical Center, Morris, Illinois.


Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. is Assistant Professor of Anesthesia, Indiana University School of Medicine, and Chair, Wishard Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics, Indianapolis.