American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) 2019 had a total of 12 different clinical tracks that ranged from Ambulatory Anesthesia to Critical Care Medicine. For some specialties, such as the ASA provides the required Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology and CME credits in various formats. It is arguably the most enormous anesthesiology related gathering each year in the United States.
Finding the Focus
The annual meeting could be intimidating for some due to the sheer size of the conference and the endless variety of sessions. ASA 2019 was estimated to have had almost 13,000 attendees this year. It was easy for some to feel lost in the sea of anesthesiologists because not all of the attendees were lecturers, speakers, moderators, committee members, or delegates, who had already found their focus at this enormous meeting. Just a few years ago at one of the ASA annual meetings, I was overwhelmed with the large selection of sessions. Aimlessly attending as many sessions as possible was simply exhausting for me and this is why it is crucial for me to find my focus within the vast selection of choices that are offered within the ASA annual meetings.
With the question “What is your focus?” in mind in the next few years, the goal for me with each ASA annual meeting became clearer. I found other practices that were having the same struggles that I have experienced. We all witnessed the expansion of the field of ambulatory anesthesiology. The information presented at the different ASA sessions helped me find my practice focus and determine which subspecialty society I needed to join in order to gain clinical guidance and more in-depth knowledge on the most updated information in the area of ambulatory anesthesia. That was how I found the Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia (SAMBA).
Take ASA 2019 as an example, the Ambulatory Anesthesia clinical track had more than 30 sessions that focused on outpatient, office-based, and non-operating room anesthesia. The SAMBA subspecialty track kicked off on Saturday with a panel titled, “Ten Things You Need to Know about Practice Management for Ambulatory Surgery Centers.” This session highlighted the important issues of quality improvement, regulatory compliance, billing, and the role of the medical director. On clinical practice, several sessions pointed out that non-operating room anesthesia facilities are inherently different from ambulatory surgical centers (ASC) and hospitals with respect to infrastructure and personnel capacity. Scheduling patients for preoperative medical optimization, designing a clear patient selection process, and understanding how to utilize the different resources of each different ambulatory anesthesia practice are crucial for ensuring patient outcomes and safety. Several sessions offered ways on data collection to measure quality and safety for feedback. Real life examples of a geriatric patient, a morbidly obese patient, and a pediatric patient with Down syndrome undergoing ambulatory procedures were reviewed during the Problem-Based Learning Discussions. Optimal anesthetic modalities for different patient populations at ASC sparked exciting debates during the Point-Counterpoint sessions.
If you ever wanted to find a specific subspecialty within the large blanket of anesthesiology to focus on, grabbing the ASA sampler platter is the best way to get your hands on a little bit of everything. ASA is arguably the most cost-effective and time efficient way to taste everything before you jump in for a full meal. I found my preferred anesthesia meal, SAMBA, at ASA 2016. I enjoyed the sampler again at ASA 2019 and this helped to confirm my continued interest in ambulatory anesthesia.
If you have not found your favorite anesthesia dish, I will see you at ASA 2020 in Washington D.C. and we can figure it out together!