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eSAS – Nurturing the next generation of academic anesthesiologists

eSAS – Nurturing the next generation of academic anesthesiologists

This article was published in the Spring AUA Newsletter and discusses the goals of eSAS and the plans for the Scholars Program at the May 2016 AUA/IARS joint meeting.

*Please note that since this article was written we have updated our group’s name to early-Stage Anesthesiology Scholars

Scholars’ Program comes to AUA/IARS!

Elizabeth L Whitlock, MD, MSc; Vivianne L Tawfik, MD, PhD

This year’s meeting features a brand new program of talks targeted specifically at early-career faculty, fellows, residents, and other trainees interested in a career in academic anesthesiology: the AUA/IARS Scholars’ Program. The Scholars’ Program is intended to introduce the newly-minted Society of Anesthesiology Scholars (SAS), the “academic home” for early-career anesthesia scholars proposed by Michael Avidan, Margaret Wood, Jeanine Wiener-Kronish, Judith Hellman and George Mashour with the support of the AUA Council and first highlighted in this Newsletter in Spring 2015.[1] We think the new program offers something of incredible importance to young investigators: a personalizable, cross-disciplinary roster of talks and interactive sessions that covers the spectrum from concrete scientific and career development advice to navigating the changing social, economic, and political contexts of academic anesthesiology.

But, why now? What is SAS? And why do we need a program like this?

Why now?

Times are changing in the world of early-career anesthesiologist/scientists. Research silos, parochialism, escalating service obligations that compete with nonclinical time, and increasingly scarce funding – with changing funding priorities – make the choice of an academic career in anesthesiology particularly daunting, even though considerable resources may be invested in promising young trainees through the residency stage. and Balser’s analysis of factors contributing to anesthesiology’s relatively low prominence as an “academic” specialty identified the difficulty of transitioning from early-career researcher to mid-career funding sources as a potential explanation.[2] A decade later, failures in the transition from early-career to mid-career clinician/scientist continue to waste enthusiasm, talent, and expertise, and prevent our specialty from reaching its full potential. Research mentorship certainly helps, but even experienced mentors may falter when navigating new requirements for community engagement, initiating cross-disciplinary collaborations, or understanding what exactly a “cancer moonshot” is – a few examples of the changing face of research in the 21st century.

What is the Society of Anesthesiology Scholar (SAS)?

SAS is a nascent organization developed with AUA, IARS, and FAER mentorship but spearheaded by the young investigators of whom it is composed. This consortium of early-career academic anesthesiologists (from medical school through junior faculty) is intended to foster peer and senior mentorship, networking, and scientific collaboration among its members. Most importantly, however, SAS seeks to support young professionals interested in an academic career in anesthesiology. As Avidan and others proposed,[3] SAS will serve as an academic home for developing scholars in anesthesiology. Crucially, SAS is bolstered by generous academic support from the AUA and other groups committed to academic anesthesiology, in recognition that that this body of driven young anesthesia scholars forms the breeding ground for the senior scientists and thought leaders of future anesthesiology practice – and future AUA members – will be drawn.

Why do we need a program like this?

An informal survey by Avidan and Mashour revealed two major themes: early career researchers need concrete knowledge about how to accomplish tasks related to research success, and are also seeking philosophical support. Examples of the former – like in-depth exploration of the process of NIH grant evaluations, or how to manage a research laboratory – abound, and could easily have formed the bulk of the program. But the scholars are also looking for a deeper theoretical understanding of their research environment, like sessions forecasting important research questions and trends in anesthesiology (this topic was the top choice for almost 40% of respondents!).[4] We early-career scientists can benefit tremendously from the wisdom of senior academic anesthesiologists in order to learn how our work can capture the imagination of our specialty, and illuminate crucial processes which refine and improve our understanding of human health and of the care we provide. The upcoming Scholars’ Program, which is integrated as a specialized track within the meeting, recognizes these complementary needs, and with the help of senior members of the AUA, IARS, SOCCA and FAER, we have assembled a program that brings together thought leaders and high-impact researchers from anesthesiology and beyond.

While the full program schedule is available at, the graphic below highlights the innovative sessions it offers and the speakers who will join us. Academic anesthesiologists are well represented in the program, of course, but we have also chosen to explore outside our discipline; the program offers talks from two surgeons, a clinical epidemiologist, and a Senior Advisor for Faculty Development. Reflecting the growth of academic diversity, over half the speakers are women. Further, we are particularly excited about featuring three junior faculty members from anesthesiology departments across the United States to discuss career development advice stemming from their own (recent) experiences.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t extend our deep and sincere gratitude, on behalf of the many Scholars who have expressed interest in SAS and the Scholars’ Program, to the dedicated members of AUA, IARS, SOCCA and FAER who have been instrumental in conceiving and populating the program. We draw on you for our career mentorship, we look to you to understand the context in which we work, and we are unendingly thankful for the enduring support you provide – scientifically, clinically, and personally – to developing Scholars like us. Want to get involved as a mentor? There are still plenty of opportunities to meet up with Scholars, formally or informally; we have highlighted the AUA/IARS/SOCCA/FAER Mentorship Reception and the Mentored Moderated Poster Rounds!

Thank you again for your support and enthusiasm. We are very excited to see you in San Francisco!



[1] (Ref AUA Newsletter Spring 2015)

[2] Schwinn DA and Balser JR. Anesthesiology Physician Scientists in Academic Medicine: A Wake-up Call. Anesthesiology 2006; 104:170-8.

[3] (Ref AUA Newsletter Spring 2015)

[4] (Avidan, personal communication)

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