From There to Here: Members Stories in the SEA

1. When and why did you join SEA?
It’s been longer than I’d care to admit. Over ten years now. I have always been interested in teaching skills to small groups or individuals, not so much in the lecturing part. A mentor of mine sent me a note informing me about the Seattle meeting in 2009 and suggested I should attend. I had been a member of SEAUK before I moved across the Atlantic to Colorado.

2. What skills do you have that you use to contribute to this organization?
Skills…hmm. I get things done. Is that a skill or a superpower?

3. How has your experience been in SEA so far?
I’ve really enjoyed it, especially the face-to-face stuff back when we actually did it! I really miss it and hope we get it back soon. There’s nothing quite like wandering the meeting, chatting with people. I get really enthusiastic about trying out the ideas after each meeting.

4. What do you think are the strengths of this organization?
If you want to see scholarship in anesthesiology education, you need to be where the scholars hang out. Our society draws its membership from teaching institutions from all over the country, and we are always happy to welcome new members. We are also willing to share our own knowledge, time, and expertise to help each other out in reaching our own educational goals.

5. What do you think are the weaknesses of this organization?
It is sometimes difficult to keep things moving forward without the “in person” contact. Also, we don’t use the website enough or the committee fora. I’m not much of a social media animal so I can’t comment on how helpful that is… maybe we could embrace it a bit more.

6. What does a typical day look like working with this organization?
There’s no typical day…it varies. Sometimes I’ll do something in the evening after work or on a non-clinical day when there’s something that needs to be done. There are usually big gaps between periods of panic. Deadlines to be met and the realization that there are a few issues not yet resolved with a meeting around the corner. Mostly, if I stay ahead of the game, it is smooth sailing… and working with Andrew Bronson from our management organization, or any of his associates, makes it much easier. We haven’t messed up yet.

7. What is your position in SEA?
I’m the Chair of the Education Meetings Committee although I’m in the process of handing over to Kristin Ondecko-Ligda. Seven years as a committee chair is enough. SEA’s bylaws specify committee chair term limits to encourage new perspectives. Our committee is responsible for coordinating with our management company to prepare and deliver the Fall and Spring meetings. I’ll just mention the Workshop on Teaching in passing because they really do their own thing and it’s incredibly successful.

8. How did you get to know about SEA?
A flyer sent in the internal mail.

9. Where do you see yourself in five years from now with respect to the organization?
Still in it. Working quietly in the background, if I’m being honest. There are plenty of smart people on the board so they don’t need me. I might take a sideways step to one of the other committees. I’ve always wanted to attend other round-table sessions but our committee has always been so busy.

10. How is the teamwork in SEA?
Like I hinted at earlier, we are great collaborators. There is so much that I have achieved through membership of this society. It's not as if I wouldn’t have managed on my own but I definitely found it easier through working with others. Because of our geographical spread, things can be difficult, but there is always someone out there who is willing to answer questions and give a second opinion. I should also mention Andrew Bronson from our management organization. His support in keeping the society on track is priceless.

11. What opportunities exist for members here?
There is plenty of opportunity for absolutely everything. The society doesn’t run itself. Committees need to be managed. On an individual level, there is so much to be gotten out of the society…mentorship, support, ideas, collaborative endeavors, scholarship. Most problems that you need to deal with have probably been dealt with before by someone else.

12. How is the dynamic between the members of this group, especially during committee meetings?
The Board as a whole...very respectful. It’s a process that has rules and has to be undertaken properly. It just helps to have a glass of wine at hand. As for the Education Meetings Committee…lots of talking and ideas…often too many to actualize. I think we have grown big enough to allow the development of smaller subcommittees who can be given their own tasks. I think we should allow responsibility to devolve!

13. Where do you see SEA in five years?
Still here and increasingly relevant. The pressures on academic medicine and working for our learners with less time and money available across the board necessitates this. You really can’t accomplish as much on your own as you can with support from the members of this society.

14. Who would you encourage to join SEA and why?
All clinician educators. Anyone who wants to be a better teacher. Educators who want to be scholarly. Students who want a head start. With promotion at academic institutions set up the way it is, being an active member ticks many of the boxes needed. The dine-arounds are usually great too…it’s about making connections outside your home institution.

15. What can you tell me about JEPM?
It’s a proper journal and It’s getting bigger and harder to publish in. The editors are the closest thing we have to rogue operators, but they’re doing an excellent job. They’re always asking for more money and they always get it. It must be working!

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