President’s Corner

The period between Thanksgiving (some would even say Halloween) and New Year’s Day feels like a sprint to the end, a mad rush of preordained traditions that fills us with a sense of the tried and true, the old leading to the new, the past looking towards the future. So, this is a good time for a look back at 2021, the second and (hopefully) final act of our very own modern Greek tragedy, a year where nearly 400,000 fellow citizens died as a consequence of a disease we didn’t even know existed a little over 2 years ago.

The number of changes, and scientific advances, and pain, and fear, and hope, has been nothing like we have ever experienced before. And our ilk, those of us who care for patients in intensive care units and operating rooms, were asked to take on an outsize role, a performance of a lifetime, one that stretched the limits of our comfort zones and made us take stock of who we are, and where we stand as a specialty.

And just like we hear every January in a little-known TV broadcast, let me begin by saying that the state of our Society is strong. Over the last year, our membership has grown to be the biggest recorded, both in active and educational members, and now SOCCA is the umbrella that covers over 1,000 intensivists in practice or training. Our recruitment efforts, under the direction of Suzanne Bennett, now begin early with complimentary membership even during the first year after fellowship, and we expect to retain most of our educational members with a strong value proposition.

Our educational mission, traditionally one of SOCCA’s strongest pillars, had to be completely reimagined at the beginning of 2020 and progressively evolve and adapt over the next 2 years. Once extremely fearful of not having an in-person annual meeting, now we feel we have diversified and bolstered our offerings substantially, creating excellent and consistently well attended webinars, a Board review course that continues to grow, and significantly expanded our pool of speakers and experts. Most of these new outstanding speakers are early to mid-career, showcasing the vibrancy and enthusiasm of our younger members. Kudos to Ashish Khanna, chair of the Educational Committee, for connecting all this energy.

Not long ago, the words “research” and “SOCCA” weren’t used together frequently. A few years ago, the Society’s leadership decided to put together a committee that could harness the research drive of our members by finding common interests and threads. Now, under the leadership of Matthew Warner and Shahzad Shaefi, we are starting to see the results of those efforts.  We should soon be publishing a very interesting survey about the demographics and patterns of practice of anesthesiologists-intensivists, as well as multiple collaborations in books and clinics.

The Society’s growing in many directions, adapting to the needs of our membership: soon we will have a women’s group, a clinical practice group and a service chief’s advisory council, in addition to the physicians in private practice and the young intensivist group, which were established and have matured over the last year.  Please consider joining a committee; our very different aptitudes, points of view and strengths is what makes us unique. The future of our Society is looked carefully after by our immediate past president, Dan Brown, serving as head of the nominations committee. In addition to applications for the Board of Directors, we want every member to feel not only welcome but an integral part of the organization.

And then there must be a voice. Anything and everything we do is disseminated through various channels, including this very newsletter, the SOCCA Drip, our email list, and our Twitter account. All this is coordinated by Brent Kidd, universal master of carrier pigeons and chair of our communications committee.

The International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) provides SOCCA with a robust organizational backbone, and I would like to send very special thanks to Vivian Abalama, our society’s Director, and Kristin Howard, responsible for our meetings and educational offerings. SOCCA is better because of the work they do.

So yes, 2021 was a convoluted, complicated, sometimes frustrating, sometimes promising, but certainly a thrilling year for SOCCA. To all our members, on behalf of the Board of Directors and myself, I would like to wish you the best during this Holiday season and raise a glass for the future of our specialty and SOCCA. Thanks for all you do and Happy 2022!

Looking forward to seeing you in Hawaii!

Author

Miguel Cobas, MD, FCCM
President, SOCCA
Professor of Anesthesiology and Surgery
University of Miami Lennar School of Medicine
Miami, Florida