On Tuesday February 26th, I joined my fellow anesthesiology residents from academic programs across the state for the second annual CSA Resident Advocacy Workshop in Sacramento. It was an incredibly informative day learning about the multitude of policy issues facing anesthesiologists and the House of Medicine and reinforced the importance of grassroots advocacy. It was also a great opportunity to network with CSA leaders and other anesthesiology residents who are also embarking on their career.
We started the day with a warm welcome and introduction from CSA Legislative and Practice Affairs Division Chair Jeff Poage, MD, and CSA Executive Director David Butler. We then had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the group - our cohort was widely represented from CA1s to CA3s (and even a fellow!) from almost every program in the state!
As residents we are steeped in medical learning, but what many of us did not realize is that so much of our day-to-day work as anesthesiologists has the potential to be significantly impacted by legislative and regulatory actions. It was fascinating to learn about the legislative process, the political landscape in Sacramento and the host of policy issues that CSA is engaged in. These included: access to care, network adequacy, independent contractor employment, and opioid related policies. CSA lobbyists Bryce Docherty and Vanessa Cajina, and CSA’s public relations team, Alison MacLeod and Lisa Yarbrough, are closely following these issues and are working each day to protect physician-led care and the specialty of anesthesiology. With over 2,500 bills introduced this year and heightened media attention on several of these issues, this is not an easy task!
Next, we held a practice affairs discussion led by CSA President Emeritus Mark Singleton, MD. This was a very eye-opening presentation as many residents were surprised to learn about the dramatic changes that have occurred in the practice of anesthesiology over the course of only two to three decades. Dr. Singleton recounted how only a short time ago the use of pulse oximetry and capnography was not a standard. Todd Primack, DO, FASA, furthered the discussion related to reimbursement and urged us to be more aware of these issues, since we are likely to see great changes to our specialty when we begin our careers.
During lunch, CSA President-Elect Christine Doyle, MD, FASA, and David Butler facilitated a discussion among the attendees to discover what residents would like from the CSA. Several residents mentioned how to they wanted the CSA to be more active in engaging residents during their first year of training. We also discussed residents’ desire for increased mentorship opportunities and continued commitment to the many CSA-sponsored resident opportunities already offered.
Following lunch, we braved Tuesday afternoon’s rainy and windy weather in downtown Sacramento for a short walk to the State Capitol. We first met with a staff member of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) for a discussion about Assembly Bill 5—legislation relating to independent contractors. Next, we met with Robby Sumner, who works for Assembly member Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley). Mr. Sumner is a consultant for the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, which is responsible for reviewing any legislation that relates to physicians across all specialties, including anesthesiologists. He emphasized the importance of organizations like the CSA, so that when there is a bill introduced that affects a community of licensees, such as our own, legislators are able to understand how it would impact our profession.
Our next meeting was with Assembly member Joaquin Arambula, MD, who practiced for 10 years as an emergency medicine physician in Fresno prior to coming to the Assembly. He chairs the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, which oversees every dollar that the state spends on healthcare. He recently introduced Assembly Bill 4, which seeks to expand state-sponsored coverage for more low-income Californians. Finally, we met with Assembly member Chad Mayes who is the Vice Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. We discussed the shortage of residency positions in the state and the issue of ever-increasing student loans for young people who seek careers in healthcare.
We wrapped up our time at the Capitol with a tour of the building and several group photos. John Patton, MD, a CA-2 resident from Stanford, took over the CSA Instagram account for the day and did an amazing job capturing the day’s events. Felipe Perez, MD, a pediatric anesthesiology fellow at Stanford, did an equally fantastic Twitter takeover with live tweets throughout the day. I encourage all CSA members, especially my fellow residents and young physicians, to follow CSA on social media to learn about the important work CSA leaders are doing on behalf of CSA members, our specialty, and our patients. Click here to follow CSA’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.
Lastly, we finished the day with a networking reception and debrief with special guest Assembly member Jim Wood, DDS, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee!
The second annual resident advocacy workshop was a tremendous success and built upon the experience of last year’s inaugural event. On behalf of all the resident attendees, I want to thank the CSA for its commitment to advocacy for our profession and its devotion to resident inclusivity!