President's Message

Hope and Growth

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

Dr. Agarwal

Dr. Agarwal

It is with great pride and hope that I write my final President’s Message. Hope for a world free from the pandemic in the near future. Hope for the continued growth of the Society. Hope that more of you will choose to get involved with our Society and help mold its future, and hope that we will soon be able to see each other in person. It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as your President and I can only hope that I was able to uphold the mission and vision of the Society. It is with pride that I look back at all of our accomplishments and look forward to so many more.

In April we will welcome a new President, Dr. Robert Wilder, and a new Board of Directors. Dr. Yuan-Chi Lin will be the President-Elect and Dr. Stephen Hays will be joining the Executive Committee as Secretary Treasurer. We welcome (in some cases welcome back) to the Board the new Directors at Large;  Drs. Karen Boretsky, Amber N. Borucki, Deepa Kattail, Galaxy Li, and Steven J. Weisman. They will be joining Drs. Vidya Chidambaran, R. Scott Dingeman, and Rosalie Tassone.

My sincerest thanks and those of the entire Society to those members who are rotating off the Board: Drs. Harshad G. Gurnaney, Benjamin H. Lee, Sophie R. Pestieau, and Kristen O. Spisak. They have been a vital and an important part of the Society’s growth and mission. My most special thanks go to Dr. Anjana Kundu, one of the founding members of the Society and Immediate Past President. Her vision, passion and devotion to the Society have been instrumental to its success. 
My term as President started in Houston 2019. I had been so excited because my parents live in Houston and I had been anticipating inviting them to the Winter meeting. Unfortunately, my beloved father unexpectedly passed away in January, two months prior to the meeting. While my mother still attended, we both missed him tremendously.

My term will be ending at the Eighth Annual SPPM Meeting being held virtually in April. The years in-between have been both tumultuous and productive. As a young Society we have accomplished so much, not just during my term as President, but throughout our eight-year existence. Under the leadership of Dr. Sabine Kost-Byerly and Dr. Anjana Kundu, with the unceasing efforts of the Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, Annual Program Directors and membership, the Society is in a great position to keep expanding and growing. A brief listing of some of our recent accomplishments follows. It is impossible to list everything, so please forgive me for missing anything and anyone. There are so many dedicated and hardworking people who have contributed, and there is no possible way to list them all.

We are now approaching our Eighth Annual Meeting. Who would have known a year ago while we were basking in the beauty of the Bahamas, enjoying the fantastic, expanded meeting organized by Dr. M-Irfan Suleman, the meeting planning committee, and Ruggles, that a short month later the USA and most of the world would be in the grips of the worst pandemic since 1912?

Meeting photos

The upcoming program is excellent, informative, scientific and covers a wide variety of topics. The Education Committee and Program Director Dr. Marisa Wiktor, Dr Wilder, and the Meeting Planning Committee have done an incredible job of navigating a stressful environment and planning a meeting, while not knowing exactly what format that meeting would be in and when it was going to occur. Kim Battle, Stewart Hinckley and Jenny Patterson have been invaluable in their support and ability to adapt to the vagaries of the pandemic and need to convert to a fully virtual meeting.

The ravages of the pandemic have also affected the International Symposium for Pediatric Pain (ISPP) which was supposed to take place in 2021 and is now being postponed to March 24-27, 2022. Dr. Wilder continues to work closely with the organizers and invites all members to consider submitting proposals and/or attending the conference.

Dr. Petra Meier-Haran and the Membership Committee have worked hard to expand and revise the membership categories to better align with the Mission and Vision of the SPPM.  As a result, there are membership categories with full benefits and voting rights in addition to the affiliate and other membership categories.

Communications and Website
Dr. Deepa Kattail and the Communication Committee have done an incredible job in helping update our website, producing a Question of the Month and keeping members updated with the SPPM Monthly Update. They have ensured that we have varied and interesting features in the Latest News section and help with all our various social media efforts. Other additions to the site include:

  • Search function for Question of the Month (key words) and newsletter articles 
  • List of pediatric pain programs with links in the Resources and Patients sections 
  • Pediatric Pain Fellowship Programs and Pediatric Regional Anesthesia Section with links to each program
  • Updated resources and books for practitioners and families
  • FAQs for the Patients/Families section
  • Latest News-will try to update at least biweekly
  • Pain Awareness monthly highlights
  • COVID-19 resource page
  • Videos in both the main website and for candidates

We are excited to be introducing a new feature in the next few months called SPPM Intervention of the Month. The goal will be to highlight different types of interventions including nerve blocks, acupuncture, biofeedback, CBT, PT, OT, interventional procedures for chronic pain, etc.

Please consider contributing. Your voices help improve the website and then make it more relevant to all members. Also join SPPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Dr. Yuan-Chi Lin and Associate Editor Dr. Francis Kraemer, along with the Editorial Board, have done a truly remarkable job with the SPPM Newsletter. There is so much great information on a wide variety of topics related to pediatric pain. Each issue has a theme and authors from all areas of pain medicine (psychology, PT, nursing, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, massage therapist, etc.) are recruited to contribute. In addition, the annual meetings and other conferences that may be of interest to members are carefully reviewed.  There are updates from the AAP Section of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine and regular literature reviews. Contributions and editors are welcome!

Outreach, Advocacy, Liaisons
Dr. Scott Dingeman has made great progress in reaching out to several national nursing organizations that our invaluable nurse practitioners are members of, in order to forge stronger relationships and develop collaborative programming. Unfortunately, the pandemic put many of our plans on hold, but in recent months there has been a resurgence of communications and interest. We are excited to see where and how this will progress.

Dr. Rachel Zoffness has agreed to be our psychology liaison in a pilot program to increase engagement across specialties. We hope to reach out to other interested organizations and specialties in the future.  Please let Dr. Dingeman or another member of the Board of Directors know if you have any thoughts or ideas on other societies, or organizations we should reach out to.

The Society has continued to work with the US Pain Foundation, Protecting Access to Pain Relief (PAPR), Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP), International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) and was closely involved with the Steering Committee and subsequent creation of the US Association for the Study of Pain (USASP).

SPPM spearheaded a response to the FDA’s citizens petition regarding removal of the black box warning for codeine in children. The response was supported by the SPA and other members of the pediatric pain community.

Members of the Society created the first two Special Interest Groups. More information can be found on the website.

  • Creating and Maintaining Inpatient Pediatric Pain Service contact Dr. Alina Lazar
  • Intensive Interdisciplinary Pain Treatment Programs contact Dr. Eugene Kim

If you have a group you are interested in creating, please let the Board of Directors know.

Under the leadership of Dr. Benjamin Lee, the Research Committee continues to support research by allowing a venue to present posters, abstracts and oral presentations. In addition, Dr. Lee has been elected to the Board of the newly created US Association for the Study of Pain, which has a heavy focus on research.

This year the Board approved the creation of several standing committees. The standing committees now include the Executive Committee, Nominating Committee, Advocacy Committee, Research Committee, Education Committee, Finance and Membership Committee, and Communication Committee.

Spring is a time for hope, growth, and renewal. This year more so than ever, I hope you take the time to care for yourselves and your families, and I hope you take the time to join a committee and help with the growth and flourishing of the Society.

My sincerest thanks for allowing me to serve as your President and to Kim Battle, Stewart Hinckley, the entire Ruggles organization and the SPA leadership for their help and support over the years.


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