Committee On Education Update: Looking Back and Thinking Ahead!
I was a second-year anesthesia resident when my teachers and mentors encouraged me to go the annual Society of Critical Care Anesthesiologists (SOCCA) meeting. At my very first meeting, I found the atmosphere very family-like, very open, very healthy and a lot of positivity all around. Ten years later, I chaired my very first SOCCA meeting at the recently concluded SOCCA Annual Meeting in 2021. I never thought that a decade of association with the SOCCA would get me here, and neither did I ever think that I would one day chair a virtual meeting. My story is the story of what SOCCA means to an aspiring generation of ambitious critical care anesthesiologists, and what SOCCA can do for all of us. The society has nurtured and mentored me, and I can proudly say that today we are stronger than ever before because of this culture of support. I remain forever grateful and thankful. If you are reading this today, and you are new to SOCCA, I welcome you and hope that you will grow with SOCCA, much like a lot of us have.
Like a lot of other scientific meetings over the last year or more, SOCCA suffered at the hands of the COVID19 pandemic. We live in an era of objective data and the numbers received from the virtual SOCCA 2021 meeting, do not need complex statistics to tell a story. We had 421 registrants for the meeting, which is a whopping 60% more than our last in person meeting in 2019, and more than any other meeting going back to the year 2014. Not only did people register, but they also attended and stayed with their sessions during the virtual day. An average of 50 minutes of time was spent by attendees as virtual audiences for the hour-long educational sessions. A testament to the ease of attending a virtual meeting and maybe a message that we may always consider some sort of hybrid virtual format for our meetings. We also had 195 virtually presented scientific abstracts, which was yet again a greater than 65% increase from our last in person meeting in 2019. New for this year, was the early career networking event, that was attended by 54 folks on a virtual platform. We thank Dr. Alisha Bhatia for spearheading this effort, which despite all challenges, triggered good conversation and healthy discussion. In fact, most attendees felt highly engaged and wanted more time with the senior mentors on their respective virtual break out rooms.
I thank SOCCA president Dr. Miguel Cobas and the board of directors for leading us through a difficult year where we had to do a lot of unconventional and unprecedented things. I also want to thank my education committee and especially our former chair Dr. Peter Vonhomeyer for helping put together a truly star studded program for all of you at the 2021 annual SOCCA meeting. And last but certainly not the least, Kristin Howard and Vivian Abalama from SOCCA and IARS for working with us every step of the way and helping us get to where we are today.
After an exceptional year, we all are looking forward to going back to normal as we prepare for the upcoming SOCCA annual meeting in 2022. As we look ahead, I pass this baton onto co-chairs for the SOCCA 2022 Annual Meeting, Dr(s). Allison Dalton and Kunal Karamchandani. They share our vision for the future with all of you and hope that we will all be together and in-person next year! In the meanwhile, the education committee has expanded its scope of engagement to year-round activities to help the membership. Significant advancements and widespread use of technology to facilitate webinars and live virtual sessions has allowed for innovation in the educational offerings during the pandemic, and these continue this year as well. We now have the opportunity to meet (albeit virtually) for educational panels, interactive discussions and networking throughout the year.
Despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic, we have been able to keep our members engaged throughout the year via monthly webinars. We look forward to continuing these SOCCA education webinar series and have included diverse, high impact session themes including strategies to combat public health misinformation, updates on cardiac critical care, advancements in sedation management and preserving cognitive function in critically ill patients.
Quarterly virtual journal clubs have given us an opportunity for profound discussion of recent relevant publications, and we wish to continue such sessions going forward. We are also excited to begin offering CME credit for journal articles as well as annual meeting presentation videos, which would soon be posted on the SOCCA website and possibly find a peer reviewed published home as well!
The second annual board review course happens in September this year. The popular new activity will help fellows prepare for the critical care board exam and participants will have the opportunity to review high yield concepts, taught by faculty with recent test taking experience.
Plans for SOCCA 2022 are currently in evolution. Please watch for the call of session proposals and submit all ideas of interest keeping in mind, diversity, inclusion, professional interest, and expertise. We are hoping that we would be able to have a hybrid meeting wherein the attendees would have the option of attending the meeting in person or virtually. We excitedly anticipate the opportunity to see and interact with you, our colleagues, whether it be virtually or over food and drinks at a live networking event. Our goal is to make the sessions interactive and entice constructive discussion, and we look to you for inspiration and expertise.
Similarly, our vision for future SOCCA annual meetings includes increasing involvement from all of our membership, bringing in a myriad of ideas and points of view that can help elevate the overall experience for the attendees. We welcome ideas from our anesthesia intensivist colleagues who practice throughout the world in various types of settings and at different stages of career development to create an inclusive, diverse and transparent process of creating content for the forthcoming annual meetings. We believe that learning from one another, whether in the form of panel discussions or in sharing of personal experiences, is a pivotal feature of the SOCCA annual meeting, and we eagerly await the chance for this personal and professional enrichment. Please join us as we build the future of critical care education and make SOCCA an essential and exciting feature of your lives!