President's Message

Collaboration is Key

By Rita Agarwal, MD, FAAP, FASA
Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology
Stanford School of Medicine
Stanford, California

Dr. Agarwal

Dr. Agarwal

Thank you to Yuan-Chi Lin and his editorial board for once again putting together such a wonderful and informative newsletter.

October was such a busy and exciting month. The SPA/ASA meeting was a great success, with many of our members speaking, presenting, or moderating well-attended and educational lectures, workshops and special sessions. The SPA continued the TED talk format, which went extremely well, and the ASA introduced SNAP talks (Five 10-minute talks on related topics). But none of that compared to the presence of the US Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, MD, MPH. As the first anesthesiologist to hold the position, Dr. Adams has a unique perspective on the health needs of the people of this great nation. He is a believer in collaboration and building partnerships to tackle some of the greatest problems facing Americans today, including the opioid crisis, high drug prices, health care reform and value-based care.



With surgeon general

Clockwise from left bottom corner: Anjana Kundu, Leena Matthews, Himani Bhatt Verma, Rita Agarwal, Anita Gupta, and Jerome Adams

Dr. Adams has a unique connection to the opioid crisis. He and his brother grew up poor in rural Maryland. While Dr. Adams went on to be extremely successful, his brother developed an opioid addiction and is now serving a 10-year prison sentence connected to this addiction.

He gave an amazing and inspiring Rovenstine lecture on many of his initiatives in his role as the Surgeon General, including several related to opioids, addiction and pain management. Dr. and Past President Anjana Kundu and I had the honor of meeting Dr. Adams and having coffee and dessert with him.  We were sure to discuss the SPPM and our mission and vision.  There are many commonalities between the Surgeon General’s priorities and the work that many of us do, so I am going to list some of them here:


at AAP event
Drs. Agarwal, Kundu and Hays in New Orleans at AAP National Convention and Exhibition

Immediately after the ASA, the American Academy of Pediatrics had its annual National Convention and Exhibition (NCE). I was the program Chairperson for the “Peds 21 Session: Opioids through the Ages”. Two members of the SPPM Board of Directors – Drs. Anjana Kundu and Stephen Hays, were featured speakers: AAP Peds 21: Opioids through the Ages.

The meeting was a huge success and seemed to be very well received. There were over 500 attendees and many posters on a variety of pain-related topics. Getting our message out to pediatricians and other health care providers is vital and working with the AAP is one way to facilitate this.

Many of you, including Dr. Lin, are working on several statements with the AAP, including a Statement on Chronic Pain Management and a Statement on Acute Pain Management. We will soon be embarking on a new Statement on Rationale Opioid Use in Pediatrics through the AAP.

The future of the SPPM is bright, but we are hoping to make it brighter by working actively with various pediatric pain groups to create partnerships and to collaborate on education and other initiatives. We are already working with the American Society of Regional Anesthesia (ASRA) to create content for our Annual Meeting and the Question of the Month. We hope to formalize this relationship and continue to expand our partnership. We are collaborating with the American Association of Pain Psychology to share information, educational content, and advertise our meetings.  The Chair of their Pediatric SIG is very interested in working closely with us for future SPPM meetings and AAPP meetings.

Dr. Scotty Dingeman has been exploring opportunities with National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) to advertise our meeting, to increase interest and engagement, and to collaborate on creating educational content for their members. I have continued these conversations in person and by email. We have had some extremely productive discussions and have some exciting ideas for the future that will require help and support from all our members. More on this when we are further along in our discussions!  In the meantime, the leadership of both groups are interested in working to explore benefits for their members. At the very least, we have additional venues in which to advertise. I have contacted the President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) who happens to work with our Vice President, Dr. Robert Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and will hopefully continue to have fruitful discussions.

Dr. Wilder has also been hard at work with the International Symposium on Pediatric Pain (ISPP) planning and organizing for their meeting in New Zealand in 2021. There will opportunities to present at satellite meetings as well as the main meeting. This is a new frontier for the society and one which we hope will continue for the foreseeable future.

The mottos that I try to live my life by are:

  • We are all in this together
  • It will be an adventure

I truly believe this, and just like our Surgeon General, believe that we provide better care and serve the needs of our patients best when we can create partnerships and work together. So if any of you have other ideas or thoughts regarding other groups to collaborate with, please let me know at [email protected]

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