Message from the President

Dr. LalwaniBy Kirk Lalwani
SPA President

I write this on Labor Day weekend as fires rage in the Amazon and the massive storm Dorian churns towards the southeastern US threatening devastation in its cone of uncertainty after ravaging the Northern Bahamas. It appears that Nassau, the site of our meeting was spared, but SPA will assist in facilitating member contributions to affected areas, both at home and in the Bahamas in the coming days.

Labor Day, which was declared a National holiday 125 years ago in 1894, celebrates the achievements of US workers whose efforts have brought strength and prosperity to the nation. The information age and the incorporation of artificial intelligence into different facets of our lives will continue to transform the skill sets required by workers of the future, while making more jobs obsolete. Medicine will not be immune from this cataclysmic societal upheaval that has seen tens of thousands of retail establishments close their doors, but instead may suffer a different fate as it faces an upcoming tsunami of baby boomer retirements that is projected to result in significant shortages of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare personnel.

The American Pediatric Surgical Association recently requested SPA’s collaboration to study how this issue will affect rural surgical services for children, as community surgeons and anesthesiologists who often take care of children in these settings retire, and may not be replaced with practitioners with similar training. This is a crucial issue affecting the health of children across the USA, and has profound implications for the distribution of pediatric surgical and anesthesia services and projected workforce needs. Our regulatory bodies have responded by increasing the number of medical students trained and potentially shortening medical training by moving to competency-based education, but there remains a deficit of residency training positions to accommodate the increased demand. Competency-based residency training may also eventually shorten postgraduate training even further. SPA’s Graduate Medical Education Taskforce has been studying the structure and content of pediatric anesthesia fellowship training programs since last year, and will deliver its recommendations in the Spring of 2020.

Implementation of the recommendations from SPA’s Strategic Plan conducted last year is progressing well with new committees, better visibility of members’ research at SPA meetings, closer collaboration with the ASA, AAP, and our pediatric colleagues from domestic and international societies, expanded offerings for community physicians via multiple tracks at the 2020 meeting, a burgeoning social media presence, a renewed emphasis on diversity, and the mentorship of trainees and younger faculty, who are the future of our specialty.

The outstanding educational offerings in the fall in Orlando and the Bahamas in 2020, as well as sessions at the ASA, IARS, and upcoming ESPA and SPANZA meetings are a testament to the vision of the education and meeting planning teams. The new Fellowship Meet and Greet at the ASA this year will highlight pediatric anesthesia fellowships and the closer ties between the ASA and the SPA. The Young Investigator Grants awarded annually by SPA, as well as the support of the Nairobi pediatric fellowship program along with other organizations at home and abroad are only possible as a result of your continued membership and engagement, as well as your contributions to the Patient Safety, Education and Research Fund. Under the auspices of the SPA Board, SPA Global is actively involved in collaborating with the Bangkok Anesthesia Regional Training Center (BARTC) to set up and support a pediatric anesthesia fellowship training program for providers from low-middle income countries in Southeast Asia, where there is a huge shortage of pediatric anesthesiologists. On behalf of the SPA Board, I thank you all for being involved in the SPA, for volunteering your time and effort, and for believing in our mission to improve the health of children everywhere.

“One does not ask of one who suffers: What is your country and what is your religion? One merely says: You suffer, this is enough for me: You belong to me, and I shall help you.”
— Louis Pasteur, 1822-1885

I look forward to seeing many of you in Orlando.

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