Message from the President

Dr. LalwaniBy Kirk Lalwani
SPA President

It is my distinct honor and privilege to serve as your president, and I do so with the conviction that I am fortunate to have the support of a dedicated and engaged membership, a top-notch board of directors, and superb management from the Ruggles group led by Kim Battle and Stewart Hinckley. I would be remiss not to mention our gratitude for the inspiring leadership of our immediate Past-President, Dr. Randy Flick, whose strong grasp of governance has enriched all of us who follow in his footsteps.

The society is humming with activity. The recent Strategic Planning Initiative skillfully led by Dr. Bill Greeley brought together past leaders of the Society as well as key figures from the spheres of research, education, and patient care to chart a course for the Society over the next five years. Some of the goals that were articulated by the five groups included: clarity and fortification of our governance structure; enhanced communication and educational offerings for members, parents, and providers of pediatric anesthesia services; identification and funding of projects to examine key research questions; dissemination of members’ research and the development of young researchers; growth of our membership and social media presence; increased engagement with other societies domestically and internationally; and development of a process to collaborate and advocate for public issues related to the health of children. I consider myself fortunate to be a beneficiary of the vision articulated by our Strategic Planning group, as the deliverables foretell the future direction of the society.

Diversity has also featured prominently in the deliberations of the Board which expressed a strong commitment to enhance diverse representation at all levels of the Society. The recently formed `Committee on Diversity’ will be led by Dr. Nathalia Jimenez, and will work to establish priorities to ensure that diversity and inclusion pervades all activities at every level of the Society. For, as Verna Myers so eloquently said, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

The Women’s Enrichment and Leadership Initiative (WELI) founded by Dr. Jenny Lee recently began by pairing up SPA mentors and promising female faculty from over 30 institutions; mentors attended the first executive coach workshop in October, and additional mentor and mentee workshops are planned for the Spring meeting. The goal is to develop and train mentees to become mentors for other female faculty at their institutions. This initiative has been further energized by generous donations to the program from anonymous donors, and it is off to an excellent start.

Efforts over the last few years to increase the number of young and relatively less well known speakers on the podium at our meetings have been quite successful; however, more work needs to be done to increase representation from departments and institutions that rarely have speakers at our meetings. This responsibility lies primarily with our meeting planning committees, but we would love to hear from you if you have a proposal for a workshop or a talk at an upcoming meeting. The recent success of the short PEDx talks at the Annual Meeting delivered many more crisp and succinct messages on a diverse range of topics, but also increased the number of opportunities for younger faculty and fellows to feature as speakers. Closely related to this initiative is the recently formed SPA Trainee Group led by Dr. Branden Engorn that seeks to engage fellows, residents, and medical students who are interested in pediatric anesthesia; one of these initiatives is a quarterly trainee webinar currently planned to start in January 2019.

In the spring, members of the Education Committee brought up the lack of attendance at many non-moderated poster sessions, and the effect this seeming disengagement by the Society could have on our trainees and young faculty excited to present their research or case reports, perhaps for the first time. With the invaluable help of Kim Battle and SPA Research Committee Chair Dr. Toyin Olutoye, we were able to address this by adding a second moderated poster session; in 2019, for the first time, all 360 accepted posters will be moderated, ensuring that everyone whose work is accepted for presentation will have an audience. In 2020, we plan to highlight the best research abstracts from the main stage with a one-minute 'Research Abstract’ session, which will serve as a prelude to the actual poster sessions.

Speaking of meetings, we hope to see all of you in Houston in 2019. In addition to a sparkling list of topics that include actual wellness activities within the main program, the Program Chair Dr. Melissa Brooks-Peterson and the planning committee have a special session with distinguished guest speakers on Sunday morning, so please make your travel arrangements so as not to miss out on these superb offerings. Houston will also host the inaugural `SPA Gala’ on Saturday evening with a `Boots & Bling’ theme, famed Texas barbecue, music, line dancing, and merriment. We also have the privilege of honoring three great pioneers of our specialty with unique `Pinnacle of Merit’ awards for their unrelenting efforts to secure official subspecialty designation for pediatric anesthesiology; Dr. Steve Hall, Dr. Frank McGowan, and Dr. Mark Rockoff. We hope to see all of you there!

As for 2020, our Spring Meeting will be international for the very first time at the famed Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. This venue has generated a lot of buzz, and Dr. Tarun Bhalla, the Program Chair, and the planning committee will strive to match this excitement with a program that will ensure a sparse turnout at the pool and the beach. The gauntlet has been thrown down!

As the year draws to a close, I wish all of you a happy, healthy, and joyful Holiday season, and a prosperous New Year. In the words of Les Brown, “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.”

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