In a time of rapid change in medicine, clinicians working in the fields of anaesthesiology and intensive care are facing a series of challenges and promises heralded by technological and therapeutic advances. ESAIC’s Scientific Committee members have the lofty task of tracing roadmaps for a new healthcare landscape, one defined by the intersection between clinical experience and the role of new technologies. As of January 2024, these experts recruited from across Europe are working to advance the Committee’s mission under the leadership of Prof. Michel MRF Struys, MD, PhD, FRCA.
While Struys brings extensive knowledge and a unique vision to his new role, he is committed to preserving the legacy of former Chairperson Idit Matot. During Matot’s term, the Scientific Committee underwent significant structural changes to connect the different subspecialties and foster multidisciplinary collaboration to ensure cohesive care and optimal clinical outcomes. The Committee now has six forums designed to address specific issues, from a focus on patient care to technological advances and ethics.
“The forums each have two Chairs, an intensivist and an anaesthesiologist because ESAIC is very keen to connect perioperative anaesthesiology and intensive care, but also pain management and emergency medicine,” Struys explained. “Within these forums, we have subforums with the different specialities. The new structure of the Scientific Committee is assisting us in executing our vision and mission in a much leaner and more accurate way than previously. While all these subcommittees work separately, with their own leadership and structure, they are all connected much more closely now.”
Struys has made it his mission to consolidate the new structure, which was born out of extensive collaboration between the former and incoming Chairpersons. “My task now will be to make it work and find the right experts to fill the Committee positions,” he said. “One of the roles of the Chair is to detect and attract the right people to ESAIC.” These efforts are ultimately directed at the main goal that Struys and his colleagues are pursuing as clinicians: providing the highest level of patient care.
The new term has begun on a note of collaboration, which is key to achieving and maintaining high standards in clinical care. “First of all, we should work together with all the other Committees to carry out the mission and vision of ESAIC,” Struys stressed. “We should try to provide our patients with the safest and highest-quality care through education based on accurate science and research. That is also my goal as an anaesthesiologist and as the Chair of an academic department.” Struys serves as a Professor and Chair of the Department of Anaesthesiology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and a Professor in the Department of Basic and Applied Medical Sciences at Ghent University in Belgium. “Patient safety and quality of patient care are on the highest level of priorities,” Struys added. “We have to collaborate with everybody inside ESAIC to promote that goal.”
In recent years, the role of the Scientific Committee has evolved well beyond setting the agenda for the annual ESAIC meetings. While its members continue to be on the lookout for the latest trends and the hottest topics in anaesthesiology, which enables them to design a comprehensive program for major conferences such as Euroanaesthesia, they are also tasked with finding the right experts who will share their knowledge with other members of ESAIC. The new Chairperson’s agenda includes building a network of professionals who can support his efforts to identify and bring such experts on board. By enlisting the right experts, the Scientific Committee can fulfil its role of developing content for educational activities and events and lay the groundwork for other components of ESAIC.
Experts and researchers from every corner of the continent form the backbone of ESAIC’s Scientific Committee. However, their participation in the Committee is limited to a three-year mandate. “The biggest challenge is to find the right people with the necessary expertise to dedicate the time,” Struys noted. “It is an unpaid role that is part of their academic career and their work in clinical practice or academic settings. Everywhere in the world, and certainly in Europe, there is a lot of pressure on healthcare professionals. It is harder and harder for organisations like ESAIC to find people who can take on a role like being a Committee member.”
In attracting and retaining talent, the leadership of the Scientific Committee should also be guided by the tenets of diversity and inclusivity, Struys said. Rules are already in place to ensure geographic diversity by limiting the number of participants from any given country in each forum. “We are also very careful with gender balance,” Struys added. “We want to have inclusivity and diversity in our Committee regarding gender and nationality. One of my goals in my term is to focus on diversity and inclusivity in the Scientific Committee.” Diverse perspectives and backgrounds may become important assets as the Scientific Committee continues to navigate modern-age issues, such as the role and limitations of artificial intelligence-enabled systems and the efficacy and safety of new therapies.
Prof. Michel MRF Struys (MD, PhD, FRCA) – Chair of the ESAIC Scientific Committee