The American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA Pain Medicine) is committed to supporting its members and customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing that our goals to improve patient outcomes and relieve the global burden of pain remain as important as ever.
COVID-19 has dramatically affected every aspect of our members' work. ASRA has responded by enhancing engagement, facilitating virtual learning, and continuing to produce those ASRA products that our members find most helpful to their practices. Last spring, we published evidence-based guidance for both regional anesthesia (Figure 1) and interventional pain (Figure 2) procedures within the COVID-19 environment. We debuted educational webinars on topics such as COVID-19, lumbar facet joint guidelines, and opioid use disorder to continue to get this important information out despite the lack of in-person meetings. ASRA launched a multisociety working group to address the role of anesthesiologists and pain physicians in reducing the burden of the opioid crisis and save lives touched by this devastating illness. In all, we reached many more learners in 2020 than we did in 2019, and we intend to continue that trend.
ASRA creates CONNECTIONS
ASRA is much more than a platform for education. Our members consistently rank the connections they make with colleagues to be a driving force behind their dedication to the society. Many forge relationships and collaborations with peers across the country and the world at our live meetings that continue into lifelong friendships. ASRA supports its more than 5,000 members by continuing to create meaningful ways for people to connect. We recently launched an exciting new Mentor Match program, managed by our Physician Mentorship and Leadership Development Special Interest Group (SIG). The program pairs mentors and mentees based on individualized needs. Topics addressed include advocacy, career development, leadership, program building, quality improvement research, scientific writing, and work-life balance. The formal mentoring relationship is six months, but the hope is to create lifelong matches that will continue for years to come.
ASRA's special interest groups (SIGs) offer a unique opportunity for members with similar interests and talents to share ideas, move agendas forward, and create content for the society across multiple venues. ASRA has 22 SIGs, each focusing on programs and projects that support specific aspects of the field of acute and chronic pain, and regional anesthesia (Figure 3). Nearly 70% of members are involved in one or more SIGs, and topics cover a wide range of areas such as Pain and Substance Use Disorder, Perioperative Point-of-Care Ultrasound, and Persistent Perioperative Pain. There is a SIG for everyone! These groups create projects, share research, and create amazing connections.
ASRA continues to advance high-quality EDUCATION
While the loss of our spring 2020 program due to COVID was unfortunate, we have continued to offer expanded educational opportunities. In addition to a number of educational webinars, ASRA offered two major virtual meetings this year. For the first time in our history, we collaborated with the European Society of Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy (ESRA) to create the ESRA and ASRA International eCongress, which brought together European and North American faculty for nearly 24 hours of continuous engaging and insightful programming. E-Congress was a first-ever global event offered to members without cost, bringing the world community and two major societies together at a time when so many are suffering from the isolation of the pandemic. E-Congress generated more than 5 million social media impressions! ASRA also presented its first-ever fully virtual 19th Annual Pain Meeting, which we taglined “ASRA Worldwide 2020.” The tagline was in honor of the fact that this three-day meeting combined content from our previously cancelled 46th Annual Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine Meeting, originally planned for spring 2020, and our traditional pain medicine meeting, with content spanning the entire continuum of acute and chronic and regional anesthesia. There are also sessions on opioid use disorder, practice management, and physician wellness. Led by Drs. Jaime Baratta and Magda Anitescu, this meeting's virtual format provided the added benefit of inclusivity of everyone across the globe, regardless of his or her ability to travel.
We cannot predict what 2021 will bring, but we are optimistic that we will have a robust live spring meeting May 13-15, 2021, at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, with virtual components. We have learned a lot from necessity during the COVID crisis. Looking ahead, we plan to continue offering educational webinars and on-demand continuing medical education, but with a hope to be once again face-to-face for educational programming. Regardless of what happens, ASRA will remain poised and flexible to meet our members' needs and maintain engagement.
All of these efforts are possible with the continued work of our dedicated volunteers and staff who tirelessly support the society's mission. ASRA is truly a team effort made ever-more apparent during COVID. We are incredible grateful to be part of and to serve this great society.