As I prepare to hand over the SPA Presidency to Dr. Jim Fehr, I have been reflecting on what an incredible, and in many ways unique, two years this has been as I served in this role. When I took over in October of 2020, we were really feeling the significant impact of the pandemic both at home and at work. SPA had just moved our meeting to a virtual platform, and I took the reins via Zoom. Fast forward two years, and I cannot believe how far we have come.
With COVID-19 affecting all our lives, we have had to make major adjustments. I commend our members for their resilience, dedication, and flexibility. As a Society, we exhibited these same traits. We mastered the planning and execution of our meetings virtually, and in the process, we realized that virtual options at our biannual meetings should be a component of these education opportunities going forward. Now, our members that cannot travel to meetings have the chance to be a part of them too through our hybrid programs. I was thrilled to come back together and meet in person this Spring in Tampa as we celebrated 35 years of SPA. To me, it felt like a family reunion as I reconnected with so many friends and colleagues from around the country.
When I took on my new role, I wanted to continue the work begun by my predecessors to bring more members into active roles within SPA. I saw the Society as a place where energetic and motivated individuals could showcase their strengths and build connections with other members, whether at our biannual meetings or through our committees and special interest groups. I think that the last two SPA-AAP Pediatric Anesthesiology meetings demonstrated this well. In Spring 2021, we celebrated the incredible role that women have played in pediatric anesthesiology, and over 80% of the presenters were women. In April 2022, we had an incredible number of first-time speakers on the stage, and the meeting was stronger for it. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Initiative (WELI) have continued to grow in their outreach, and I could not be prouder of what they have accomplished. Finally, SPA continues to support young outstanding investigators through our Patient Safety, Education and Research Fund.
During the last two years, we have also prepared our Society to face the challenges of the future. Since 2020, the GME taskforce members undertook a huge endeavor to evaluate the state of our specialty and determine ways that SPA can better work for its members to prepare them for the future. They have made evidence-based recommendations regarding the workforce, education, and pediatric subspecialties that will help to guide our members going forward. We also are in the early stages of developing a more formal advocacy arm of SPA that will allow us to continue to meet our mission of advancing the safety and quality of care for our pediatric patients.
It has been a true honor to serve as President of SPA. I have had the privilege of working with an outstanding Board of Directors and Executive Committee that are innovative and forward thinking. I know I am leaving SPA in good hands for years to come. I especially want to thank Kim Battle and the Ruggles staff for their hard work and dedication to our members. And most importantly, I want to thank SPA’s members for their support and enthusiasm. It is because of EVERY member that SPA is a thriving and successful Society.
Nina Deutsch, MD
Professor, Anesthesiology and Pediatrics
Children’s National Hospital