Although it is easy to write a president’s message that concentrates on the many accomplishments of current and past members of the AUA, I have tried to focus my time, as a leader, on what we can do to improve the future. Thus, despite our distractions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, I plan to quickly facilitate an update of the AUA strategic plan, with the expectation that we will help develop a path for a healthy and sustaining future for academic anesthesiology. As we look around the country and consider the decisions being made by Deans of Schools of Medicine there is significant risk for continued erosion of academic values in anesthesiology. I often wonder if the true leader of our academic medical centers has shifted away from the Dean to now being the hospital CEO. This is neither good nor bad; it just needs to be acknowledged and taken into consideration when developing a strategic plan.
I am optimistic for the future of academic medicine, including in anesthesiology, based on the strategic direction of the AAMC (https://strategicplan.aamc.org/) and my deep understanding of the activities of the ACGME (https://www.acgme.org/About-Us/Overview/Mission-Vision-and-Values). We should all be pleased to see the bright young minds who continue to match in anesthesiology and observing a stronger national emphasis on inclusion and equity in healthcare and science. We are also likely to benefit from a greater focus on science by the executive branch of our Federal Government. I am hopeful that we will soon see improved access to the US (COVID Travel Restrictions allowing) by visiting scholars and overall enhanced funding for research and healthcare. Although I suspect that will give us a little time to breath, it is important that we not become complacent, as we continue to advance the foundation of knowledge within Medicine.
The Vision of AUA is “the advancement of academic anesthesiology as a dynamic specialty that makes substantive contributions to medicine, science and society”. According to our mission statement we do this by providing academic mentorship, creating a culture of inclusion and equity and creating community through our annual meeting. In a very thoughtful exchange amongst members of Council, Dr. George Mashour challenged us to more clearly define “what is the unique function of the AUA?” and “what is the medium through which that unique function is realized?” These are critical questions which Council and other participating members of the AUA will engage with during our strategic planning process in 2021.
I believe that the AUA Strategic plan should be in alignment with, or at least informed by, the strategic plans of the AAMC and ACGME. For the AAMC plan there were ultimately approximately 1500 members of AAMC’s affinity groups who reviewed themes and goals and who provided helpful feedback. Similarly, AUA Council is expecting broad engagement with our strategic planning process in order to make the plan as helpful as possible in realizing our vision.
We are optimistic that implementation of an inclusive approach to developing our revised strategic plan will be instrumental in helping us develop new strategies and tactics. Further, in an ideal world, our strategic plan would robust enough to help us navigate the outrageous changes in the world around us. In the business world this is having planning sessions that “stress-test” the strategic plan. Stress-testing our strategic plan involves proposing alternative outcomes (scenario testing) for outrageous possibilities (e.g. pandemic) taking into consideration US Economic vitality, social contract, societal change, healthcare costs as a percentage of GDP. Stress testing our strategic plan will make us more prepared to navigate through the next “stress” that comes our way.
Consistent with our strategic plan, our alignments with eSAS and IARS continue to grow. Our Associate Member group is growing quickly and along with eSAS is serving to greatly improve the vibrancy of our Society. We will continue to help fund junior investigators through our partnerships with FAER and IARS. We are also strongly committed to continue our support of IMPACT (auahq.org/impact-award/). In the early Spring we will initiate a Webinar series that will provide free CME for AUA members. Our goal in this series will be to present important work being done in perioperative medicine and to highlight rising stars in Anesthesiology. We hope that approximately half of the presentations will be delivered junior members of the AUA.
I look forward to your engagement and receiving your feedback.