3) I love discussing how we can leverage our skills in and out of the operating room. We are constant problem solvers, negotiators, and communicators, and these skills greatly serve outside the operating room as well. So many of us take calculated risks in the operating room but refuse to take any risks in our lives and wonder why we do not feel satisfied or fulfilled. If there is no risk, there is no reward. We are sitting on a new idea and not executing for fear of "what others will think" or "what if it does not work out” — but what if it will? I was terrified of starting a podcast but, over time, as I was asked the same questions over and over by students, it was clear that this need screamed louder than my fear.
As you mentioned, the “Sevo Sistas” podcast aims to “demystify and diversify the field of anesthesiology.” We hear a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and recruiting underrepresented groups to the specialty. Why was it important for you to pair the concept of “demystification” with “diversity”?
Anesthesiology suffers from obscurity, and it is hurting us principally in two ways: 1) Obscurity hurts the profession. More states are allowing for "optional" physician-led anesthesia care instead of mandating this. 2) Obscurity hurts recruitment. Most accidentally discover anesthesiology or know of a family or friend who is an anesthesiologist. This results in very few Blacks and Latinos entering anesthesiology. We care about diversifying our field because currently, healthy Black children are three times more likely to die after surgery than their white counterparts. Research suggests racially concordant care is a positive step in addressing these racial disparities.
Because no one knows what we do, they cannot value what we do. By demystifying the field of anesthesia, it takes care of the threats posed by obscurity and strengthens the profession.
Much of your work focuses on training and development for medical students and residents. What advice do you typically give them about pursuing careers in anesthesiology?
Be bold! I meet too many timid medical students who whisper they are interested but don't believe they will be successful and then they are hurt when they don’t get in. For students interested in or curious about anesthesia I say, “Probe your interest! What is it about anesthesiology that keeps you coming back? Were you on a specialty rotation like peds or OB when you got the heart flutter? Go down the rabbit hold to explore this. See the faculty who you are with. What are they working on that you can contribute? How can you gain more exposure?” As you probe your curiosity and gain exposure, you become more confident in your decision to pursue anesthesia.
Is there anything you’d like to touch on that we haven’t yet discussed?
I’m on Twitter @EpetersonMD and my website is www.elishapetersonmd.com if you would like to connect further! Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the ASA Member Spotlight!
Elisha Peterson, MD, Med, FAAP, FASA, is a triple-boarded anesthesiologist and Harvard-trained pain medicine physician. She is an Associate Professor in Anesthesiology at George Washington. She also is the host of the “Sevo Sistas” podcast and a TEDx speaker who enjoys discussing issues relevant to diversifying anesthesiology and demystifying anesthesiology and pain medicine.