ASA Residents Challenge

Shane - ASA 1Names: Dr David Greschler, Dr Shane Cherry and Dr Chad Parvus

Event: ASA Residents Challenge

Amount raised: $4,327

Residency in the U.S. is extremely competitive – but here’s an example of competition being put to good use…

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)‘s Annual National Lifebox Challenge – a yearly chance for anaesthesia residency programmes across the country to go head to head raising funds for Lifebox.

In 2015 this healthy – this life-saving! – competition raised an incredible $20,000 to support safer surgery and anaesthesia in low-resource settings. As we begin to plan for oximetry and training workshops in the Dominican Republic, Peru and Cuba this year, the contribution will be invaluable.

The National Resident Challenge aims to be a fair fight, with institution contributions weighted by programme size. This year the top two slots were held by both small and larger programmes: the University of Mississippi bringing in $4,190 with their 24 residents, and the University of Miami taking $4,327 across their 88 residents.

We recently caught up with the three residents that lead the University of Miami’s fundraising efforts – Drs Shane Cherry, David Greschler and Chad Parvus – to find out how they got the job done!

The ASA Resident Lifebox Challenge has been a great fundraising success, what motivated you to support Lifebox?

Shane - ASA 2

Shane: As an advocate for patient safety, I can’t imagine not being moved and saddened by learning that more than 31 million operations take place each year around the globe without the use of pulse oximetry. Lifebox provides an easy and effective way to address this global health dilemma.

Additionally, the competition provided a fun way to stir up those competitive juices that we all have, not just between training programs but within our own departments. We had internal competitions arise between the different divisions of our department to see which one could raise the most funds!

Why is it important for residents to support safer anaesthesia and surgical care around the world?

Shane: As anesthesiologists we commit to being the ultimate patient advocate.  The very seal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists features a ship (the patient) with its captain (the anesthesiologist) navigating a dark, turbulent sea (the perioperative period) by the illumination of a lighthouse (our knowledge of medicine) to safety. With this commitment to safety in mind, how could we possibly ignore a problem so prevalent around the world and with such a relatively simple solution?

We know that basic monitoring, such as the use of pulse oximetry, makes surgery safer and saves lives. While we may take for granted basic monitors because for us they are standard of care, others around the world are not so fortunate. We have an obligation as physician anesthesiologists to improve the accessibility of safe and effective anesthesia care, even when that care takes place beyond our own borders.

What types of activities do residents undertake to raise funds? And what do they gain from these experiences?

Shane - ASA 4

Chad: This year our team decided to think outside of the box when it came to fundraising; whereas in the past our model relied primarily on contacting friends and family for donations, this year we wanted to avoid the trap of “donation fatigue.” Our idea was to create something useful and desirable that anyone would be excited to purchase, priced in such a way that a significant portion of the sale could go straight to Lifebox…

We settled on designing Department of Anesthesiology lanyards, as they allowed us to showcase our pride in our specialty while being incredibly functional at keeping our numerous ID badges safe and secure. The lanyards were a tremendous hit, so much so that many people who missed out on the order are clamouring for an opportunity to get them this year! An additional bonus is that the lanyard sale allowed us to send repeated emails to our department about Lifebox without the messages solely being appeals for a cash donation.  The sale was such a success we will be repeating it this year with plans to add in additional gear, like scrub caps and fleece jackets, to keep everyone in our department engaged, involved, and excited to contribute to the cause.

What do you see as the professional/career benefits to getting involved in the Residents Challenge?

Chad: Involvement in any project related to our specialty, our society, and our home departments provides innumerable opportunities for professional growth. Firstly, engaging with ASA has enhanced our respective professional networks, giving us opportunities to work with and meet colleagues from around the country. It has also solidified in each of us an understanding of the importance of staying involved in ASA now and throughout our careers.

Secondly, coordinating an effort of this scale has strengthened all of our logistical and organizational skills; these are assets that will serve us in the OR and in every aspect of our professional lives.  Lastly, within our department and within the ASA, having our names associated with a successful campaign that benefits such a truly remarkable cause is the ultimate in “personal marketing,” and it is an association with which we are all incredibly proud to have.

We’re really excited to be celebrating our fifth anniversary with ASA Global Humanitarian Outreach this year, how does the ASA Resident Challenge support ASA Global’s mission to improve anaesthesia safety worldwide?

Shane - ASA 3

Dave: The ASA Resident Lifebox Challenge supports the ASA Global mission to improve anesthesia safety by informing anesthesiologists in training of the challenges faced by our colleagues around the world. Although surgery without safety monitors is routine in many countries, the mere dissemination of this startling information provides strong motivation for anesthesiology residents to make a difference. The ASA Resident Lifebox Challenge provides a fun way to use this motivation for the greater good of global health. The Lifebox challenge encourages volunteerism, education and fundraising, and creates a tie between future anesthesiologists and global humanitarianism.

What does safe anaesthesia mean to you?

Dave: Safe anesthesia means using the extensive knowledge and evidence obtained through years of medical research to provide high quality, safe and effective perioperative care. Safe anesthesia means making the standards of care available to all anesthesiologists around the world, not just to those living in areas where these standards are mandatory. Additionally, safe anesthesia is tailored to the patient and condition being treated, being sure to be the utmost patient advocate at a time they are most vulnerable.