Friday, January 16, 2015

A Desperate Cry For Attention--Physician Anesthesiologists Week

Which person is the anesthesiologist? You can't tell either?
I've been trying to avoid bringing this up because I think the concept is so insipid. But the ASA has been bombarding its members with daily emails to spread the word for their latest idea on promoting the virtues of anesthesiologists, the first annual Physician Anesthesiologists Week. Therefore as a dutiful member of the society I am going to publicize this event even though I think it reflects badly on anesthesiologists as a whole.

Why do I think this is a bad idea? It has all the hallmarks of a desperate cry for attention from an organization with an inferiority complex. It says, "Look at me! I'm relevant! I am a REAL doctor!" Is that the message we want to be sending out? Have anesthesiologists become so insignificant and replaceable that we need to promote ourselves as a brand, like laundry detergent? Perhaps.

When our group's leadership asked our hospital to place a Physician Anesthesiologists Week banner as a screen saver on all the computers in the place, the response we received was less than enthusiastic, "As a rule, we don't use our communications channels/publications to promote organizational weeks or months. For one thing, there are far too many of those. More importantly, our strategic purpose is to promote the work under way at [the hospital] for our patients. So I'm afraid that we cannot assist with promotion of the Physician Anesthesiologists Week."

In other words, they use their screen saver to emphasize events like OR Nurses Week or Radiology Tech Week, but they don't see the need to promote anesthesiologists. And I don't blame them. You don't see the surgeons or internists clamoring for a Physician Surgeon Week or Physician Internist Week. For one thing, the title is redundant. Everybody knows surgeons and internists are physicians. They don't need to repeat it before their profession. Unfortunately the ASA thinks anesthesiologists have become so anonymous that we can't afford to do that, "Hey people, I'm a doctor too!"

Then, there's the awkwardness of celebrating ourselves. We're supposed to be leaders in patient care yet this campaign gives off an image of desperation, like we don't really believe our own legitimacy. Surgeons know they are leaders in patient care and the patients know it too. There's no need to have a special week to celebrate their work. It's innate. You know how despots in totalitarian countries conduct parades to themselves to imply to their own people how powerful they are and we laugh at their insecurity? Yeah it's kind of like that.

To see how embarrassing and debasing this Physician Anesthesiologists Week is, guess who else wants recognition for their work? And it takes place almost immediately after ours. Coincidence?
I bet everybody here is a CRNA.


  1. Course CRNA week has been around for 2 decades. The only irony is that the ASA is copying the AANA and putting it intentionally the week before.

  2. I feel the same way about "Lab Week" at our fine hospital! Embarrassing self-promotion. The organization's theme for the last year was supposed to be patient safety improvement, yet I dare say more effort was expended planning the happy hour.