Welcome to my first article as ASA Secretary, after five terms as assistant secretary. Once again, I will attest that ASA is a robust, member-driven organization. We are 58,000 members strong, bolstered by a continuing trend of increased resident, fellow, and medical student membership. That is not an accident. While we continue to deliver great value for our members across their careers, we have improved offerings to early-career members. We are also working to enrich the membership of retired anesthesiologists. You should be proud of our work that increases membership and enhances our relationships with current members. Membership in any organization can be transactional, but we want to make ASA membership a relationship – and more specifically, a positive relationship. It begins by working with our future colleagues as they start their journey through medical school, residency in anesthesiology, and throughout their careers. In this article, however, I want to focus on a particular group: our active members.

The ASA active member category consists of our practicing anesthesiologists – from those who have completed their formal training and up until retirement. We have one subset of our active membership, for our newest active members in their first three years of practice, that is participating in the Early-Career Membership Program (ECMP). The ECMP provides our early-career members with a low financial entry point into active membership, combined with a bundle of activities and services curated for their specific career stage. Consider this our three-year courtship with these members, as we hope to engage them in career-long and lifelong ASA membership. Our overall active membership last year, including early-career members, was approximately 32,000, which is terrific. Thank you for being in that group. But our active membership has plateaued over the past several years. Regardless of the factors, we want to address this plateau and grow. And with your help, we can accomplish that goal.

Nationwide, based on ASA analyses, only 62% of anesthesiologists are members of ASA. How can that be? I suspect that each one has their reason. Sometimes, nonmembership is a passive process where a potential member does not have ASA in mind or is waiting to be invited to join. For others, nonmembership may be an active process when someone is disappointed at something they perceive ASA did or did not do. Our hope is that all anesthesiologists recognize the vast number of challenges ASA addresses on their behalf and evaluate ASA as a whole. I have said for years that we need to work to find the point of pride for all in their ASA membership. I want members to be able to complete the sentence, “I am an ASA member because ....” Our specialty is diverse, and anesthesiologists are involved in many different practice types and cultures. We can't always hit the mark for each anesthesiologist without missing it for another. Therefore, we always try to do the best for as many ASA members as possible. We adjust ASA activities and strategy based on what we hear from you. Unfortunately, if you are not a member and don't engage with ASA, we can't adjust our course to your preference.

This year, I am proposing the “Drive for 35.” Thirty-five represents the active ASA membership number I want to see – 35,000. That would require a 10% increase in ASA active membership, translating to 3,000 new active members. We must develop the mindset that we can accomplish this goal, but it will take new tactics. Some of this will involve good old-fashioned word of mouth and peer-to-peer contact. That's where I need your help.

We must retain every member from last year, overcome the new retiree member numbers, and find new members to achieve our goal. But where are these nonmember anesthesiologists? I suggest they are right next to you in practice. They are your colleagues, partners, friends, and peers. ASA does an incredible amount of work that supports and enhances the careers of all anesthesiologists, so why should only 62% of us craft and fund that work? What could we accomplish with 70% membership or higher? How much more vibrant would our state component meetings be with improved attendance? What could we address with more anesthesiologists willing to assume voluntary leadership roles? In assessing the health care environment and the pressures we all feel on our practices, wouldn't it be helpful to be in this effort together?

Our ASA membership team has been working hard since November to help renew memberships. The team works to support group invoicing while also reaching individual members. April 30 marked the end of the membership grace period, but our renewal cycle is all year long. Imagine if everyone was on a group invoice or auto-renewal. Our team's effort could focus on creating member value, reaching out to nonmembers, or enhancing membership. So, what can you do? I will refer to my old call, “Give me 10.” Yes, I love slogans, but they are easy to remember and hopefully inspirational. I have asked for 10 minutes per week per member to enhance your ASA membership by engaging with calls to action, attending meetings, reading e-mails, and other beneficial activities. For a few weeks, I want you to spend your 10 minutes discussing ASA membership with your colleagues, especially if they are not members. ASA and your state component will gladly provide you with information, or you can help us contact them. Ask your colleagues to give us a two-year trial, encouraging them to sign up for membership this year, and click the auto-renewal feature to guarantee next year. Let us prove ASA's value to them.

If you are wondering what to say to your nonmember colleagues, I would refer you to the April 2024 Monitor. In that edition, ASA First Vice President Patrick Giam, MD, FASA, authored an open letter to nonmembers that I highly suggest you read. Dr. Giam mentioned that it is doubtful that your institution, employer, or practice always has your best interest at heart. It is also unlikely that your institution, employer, or practice has the collective wisdom and expertise ASA can access through our network of subject matter experts and staff. If ever in doubt, refer to correspondence from our advocacy and payment teams to Congress and regulators. These incredibly well-crafted, detailed, and, to be honest, complicated letters are challenging for an individual to draft and even less likely to be read. They are much more likely to be acted upon coming from a trusted health care source like ASA, with 58,000 members, or what I would like to see as 60,000-70,000 members. ASA is your back office working for you while you protect your patients. Remind nonmembers of the commitment they made in their lives and careers to get to where they are now. Would they be willing to risk that and the care of their patients to chance?

So, join me on the Drive for 35! Let's get to work identifying nonmember anesthesiologists and sharing the value of ASA membership with them. Let's all pull in the same direction. I am always amazed at the incredible work ASA does for our members and patients. We support our mission to Advance the Practice and Secure the Future, but we could undoubtedly accomplish more with an even stronger membership.

Kraig S. de Lanzac, MD, MBA, FASA, ASA Secretary, Vice Chair and Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Tulane University School of Medicine, and Clinical Director of Anesthesia Services, Tulane Lakeside Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Kraig S. de Lanzac, MD, MBA, FASA, ASA Secretary, Vice Chair and Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Tulane University School of Medicine, and Clinical Director of Anesthesia Services, Tulane Lakeside Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana.

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