This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of the ASA Newsletter. You can view the whole issue online here.
Although many of us in academic anesthesiology are wired to operate on an academic year (July-June), it is always during the turn of a new calendar year that triggers a time of reflection and resolution. Looking back at what FAER accomplished in 2013 – thanks to our donors and supporters – I am inspired. And looking further into 2014, I am motivated to reach new heights with (hopefully) unsurpassed levels of research grant funding and medical student fellows. Here are a few key milestones from 2013 that are helping propel us into the New Year.
Research Grant Funding Hits Second All-Time High – $2.4 Million Awarded to 17 Anesthesiologists
FAER provides anesthesiology research grant funding in basic science, clinical, translational, health services and education research. In 2013, 17 anesthesiologists representing 12 institutions received FAER grants. The award funding totaled $2.4 million, the second-highest amount FAER has ever awarded in a single year.
With these awards, FAER’s all-time funding surpassed $31 million (482 grants over 27 years). Who knows? Maybe we will reach the 500-grant threshold this year.
Medical Student Program Gains Momentum, Set to Expand in 2014
The FAER Medical Student Anesthesia Research Fellowship (MSARF) program encourages talented medical students to enter careers in academic anesthesiology. The program matches medical students with anesthesiology departments for eight-week summer research fellowships where they conduct projects alongside a mentor, learn scientific methods and participate in clinical anesthesia activities.
The FAER Board of Directors established the MSARF program in 2005, and it has grown ever since. Over time, nearly 1,100 medical students have applied to participate in the program, and more than 400 have participated. The number of student applications has increased by 58 percent over the past three years. As the number of applications has grown, the program has become more competitive. The acceptance rate decreased from 51 percent in 2011 to 32 percent in 2013.
The 2014 MSARF application cycle is already under way. This year, it will grow to include a new program, a year-long fellowship for students who want to take an even deeper dive into anesthesiology research and perioperative medicine.
Resident Scholar Program Celebrates 25 Years
The Resident Scholar Program started when many of today’s residents were in kindergarten or elementary school – in 1989. Over the past 25 years, the program, which provides residents with the opportunity to attend the ASA annual meeting, has certainly grown and changed. But the constant is the goal of having residents experience academics, science and education through the perspective of the annual meeting.
It is typical that the ASA president or president-elect speaks to the resident scholars during the program orientation prior to the start of the ASA meeting. In 2013, Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D. shared her insights and expressed the importance and value of academic medicine to the 60 residents who participated in the program. It was an enriching presentation. May the tradition live on.
FAER Initiates Study to Assess Outcomes of Research Grant Program
Also in 2013, FAER awarded a $50,000 contract to the University of Pennsylvania Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care to conduct an outcomes study that determines the cumulative effect of FAER anesthesiology grant programs in supporting the career development of academic anesthesiologists.
The study, which is being led by principal investigator Lee A. Fleisher, M.D., and co-investigator Rebecca M. Speck, Ph.D., M.P.H., is the first comprehensive assessment of FAER funding mechanisms since the 1995 study by Cynthia P. King, M.Ed., M.S., and Carl C. Hug, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. (King CP, Hug CC. Anesthesiology. 1998; 88:519-24). Dr. Fleisher and Dr. Speck are using quantitative and qualitative research methods to determine the effect of FAER Mentored Research Training Grants, Research Fellowship Grants, and Research in Education Grants, and equivalent predecessor mechanisms, on the development of academic anesthesiology careers. In addition, the study is introducing a system for annual data collection of the impact of FAER grants, and it will examine the impact of the MSARF program.
The results of the outcomes study will be available later this year and will help guide FAER in developing anesthesiology grant funding mechanisms that best support the career development of academic anesthesiologists in the future.
Support From Academic Anesthesiology Departments Reaches All-Time High
In 2010, FAER launched a program called the Society for Anesthesia Education and Research (SAER). Anesthesiology departments join this program in support of FAER’s mission to advance medicine through research and education in anesthesiology.
The program gained momentum through 2011 and 2012; last year, more than 65 anesthesiology departments joined SAER, providing dues of $5,000 each. Thank you to all the department chairs who support FAER’s mission through SAER membership.
These are just a few of the highlights from what was a successful 2013. FAER owes a great deal of gratitude to our individual donors and the component societies, subspecialty societies, practice groups, corporations, academic departments and, of course, ASA, who make it possible for us to provide opportunities that sustain research and education in anesthesiology. Thank you for another great year, and here’s to a tremendous 2014.