The past year has shone a light on both the strong critical care training of anesthesiologists and our myriad technical, cognitive, and organizational skills. Globally, anesthesiologists of all backgrounds were called upon to serve at every level of the pandemic response. From the bedside to the top echelons of international coordination, anesthesiologists distinguished themselves as clinicians fluent in the fundamentals of critical care and as rapidly adaptable leaders. The mission of the Society of Critical Care Anesthesiologists (SOCCA) is to support the development of anesthesiologists who care for critically ill patients of all types, and to that end we must recognize and celebrate the success of anesthesiologists everywhere in rising to meet these challenges. In order to support both our members and our broader specialty, SOCCA adopted new approaches within our areas of focus: education, research, community, and advocacy.
SOCCA's educational offerings pivoted rapidly toward the virtual domain. With ever-growing demand for educational content, the Education Committee, chaired by Peter Von Homeyer, MD, FASE, repurposed content from our annual meeting into freely available, CME-granting virtual webinars, which were very well received. The committee will soon expand its purview to include CME tied to relevant publications, enduring online content, and ongoing webinars even after an in-person annual meeting is feasible, cementing our multiplatform presence. Under the leadership of Dr. Sheela Pai Cole, our inaugural board review course was extremely successful in a virtual format and offered junior faculty from around the country a chance to engage with peers and trainees alike. These changes rendered SOCCA's educational offerings more accessible to a wider audience while still allowing members to share their expertise broadly. The 2021 annual meeting, chaired by Ashish Khanna, MD, FCCP, FCCM, will be fully virtual and feature sessions about leadership, relevant clinical topics, and lessons learned from 2020. In addition, Jason Brainard, MD, is working to develop a standardized critical care curriculum for residents available via the Anesthesia Toolbox (asamonitor.pub/39B1vQs).
In early 2020, it became apparent that anesthesiologists would be called upon to quickly expand critical care capacity and provide care with non-traditional teams in unconventional settings (asamonitor.pub/2Yxr4LW). An urgent need arose to develop high-quality educational content for anesthesiologists to refresh their critical care knowledge and skills. Within days, a team of critical care anesthesiologists representing ASA, the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, and SOCCA authored a comprehensive library of educational resources. COVID Activated Emergency Scaling of Anesthesiology Responsibilities materials were accessed 40,000 times within a month of going live and have been incrementally updated in response to new developments in the foundation of related evidence-based medicine. These efforts were also translated by SOCCA members into a concise narrative review (Anesth Analg 2020;131:365-77).
“The past year has shone a light on both the strong critical care training of anesthesiologists and our myriad technical, cognitive, and organizational skills.”
The Research Committee, chaired by Robert Stevens, MD, FCCM, has committed itself to better understanding lingering organizational questions in our discipline: where and how are anesthesiologist intensivists practicing, how are we training them, and in what investigatory domains are they engaged? In answering these questions, SOCCA will aim to better understand the current practice, training, and research landscape in our discipline. SOCCA members have remained extremely busy investigators. Recently we conducted Twitter journal clubs featuring publications by SOCCA members, including high-profile publications, like the clinical outcomes study of patients with COVID-19 taking aspirin, which attracted substantial attention in the lay press (Anesth Analg October 2020). Please follow our Twitter account @SOCCA_CritCare to stay abreast of the latest with SOCCA and our members.
One risk to exclusively virtual interactions is the potential for our small and tight-knit community to drift apart. In partnership with the International Anesthesia Research Society, the DocMatter forums have offered a venue by which members can keep in touch and discuss germane subjects, ranging from clinical conundra to ICU administration (asamonitor.pub/2NIc2k3). Our quarterly newsletter, “Interchange,” has evolved to more regularly offer member-generated content back to the community with developments in the broader realm of critical care highlighted in the SOCCA Drip (asamonitor.pub/3jc10zq). SOCCA members have generously interviewed their peers about their accomplishments over the past year, shared their own reflections, and prepared concise summaries of relevant literature. By the time of publication, the Early Career Intensivists Working Group led by Alisha Bhatia, MD, will have met for the first time, ushering in an exciting opportunity for our young members to network and become more engaged in every facet of SOCCA.
SOCCA remains dedicated to advocacy on behalf of its members and all anesthesiologists caring for critically ill patients. Spearheaded by SOCCA Board Director Dr. Brigid Flynn, MD, we are pleased to announce the recent publication of our Parental Leave and Lactation Recommendations (asamonitor.pub/39y1AEo). Undertaken in hopes of providing support for intensivists who are new parents and/or breastfeeding, this initiative exemplifies the role SOCCA takes to support all intensivists in their personal endeavors, to enhance mental and physical health and well-being, and to continue championing women in critical care.
As a professional society, SOCCA is only as strong as its members are engaged, and we must extend a sincere token of gratitude to our membership for their tireless efforts in a very taxing time both at work and at home. Those members who have opted to serve on our committees are due an extra measure of thanks, as these groups are the driving force behind our mission. We have been delighted to see the continued growth of our membership amid professional and personal uncertainty. SOCCA has recently reached membership of over 1,000 active and educational members; and we would like to thank Suzanne Bennett, MD, in her capacity as chair of the Membership Committee. As the professional home for anesthesiologists who care for critically ill patients wherever they may be, SOCCA extends its thanks in recognition of anesthesiologists everywhere and their efforts over the past year. We welcome your involvement and participation.