During the most recent CSA Board of Directors meeting in September, the chief residents of all of the California residency programs were invited to participate in a one-day “chiefs conference,” as well as to sit in on board meetings. I had the privilege of being one of two representatives from UCLA to attend the meeting. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet my fellow chiefs from each of the programs around the state, to foster inter-program networking and communication, and to see firsthand the importance of the CSA to our future in the specialty of anesthesiology.
The conference took place on the afternoon of Friday, September 16, following lunch with CSA Executive Committee, in a casual atmosphere. The opportunity to network with anesthesiologists practicing in different locations around the state, as well as in different practice models from the academic centers we are typically exposed to, was refreshing. The conference was well positioned to meet the needs of residents and provided messages which the chiefs could take back to their individual programs. Topics covered during the conference included practice management issues and the finances of anesthesia, a preview of a comprehensive financial management seminar which could be brought to each of our programs and an overview of some of the political action items the CSA is advocating for. Members of the CSA leadership shared insight into the Society’s activities and the importance of membership. Key CSA resources available to residents and chiefs were highlighted, such as the CSA discussion forums where members can discuss issues and propose strategies to tackle problems that affect our programs and specialty. The chiefs were also invited to share feedback with the CSA leadership on how the Society can be more responsive to the needs of anesthesiologists in training.
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Following the conference, we had dinner with CSA members who were attending the board meeting, and were invited to sit in on the Legislative and Practice Affairs Division (LPAD) meeting. During the LPAD meeting, we were given the opportunity to see the role that the CSA takes in protecting our livelihood and promoting our specialty to foster better patient care through legislative action.
As physicians in training, oftentimes we miss the bigger picture of state-based and nationwide organizations, which affect how we practice and how effective we can be in taking care of our patients. During an informal survey of my fellow chiefs, there seemed to be a consensus that while we do get some exposure to these important practice issues, as a group, residents are not nearly receiving enough information to be well informed. In a specialty such as anesthesia, where there are large volumes of information and many technical skills that must be mastered in order to safely guide our patients through the perioperative period, it can be easy to focus solely on learning and the local practice setting—somewhat like being unable to see the forest for the trees.
I know that I personally left the conference energized to take care of my patients, continue to stay involved in a leadership role and advocate for my specialty. I am taking the messages I acquired at this conference and sharing them with my colleagues, with the intention of motivating more residents to broaden their own perspectives on the importance of leadership in anesthesiology, and encouraging long-term membership with the CSA.
On behalf of the residents who were able to attend the Chief Residents Conference, I would like to once again thank the board of directors for inviting us to observe the CSA at work and to help foster our future practice. I look forward to future CSA resident events, including the proposed Southern California CA-3 conference in January.