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Establishing Regional Critical Care Chapters to Encourage Interdisciplinary Collaboration

By Currents Editor posted 08-24-2020 10:38


By Padmaraj Duvvuri, MD; Editor Lauren Koffman, DO, MS

Over the past two years, there has been an ongoing effort to establish a Midwest Chapter within the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM). I have tried to become an active member of the chapter and will be speaking at the upcoming inaugural conference on Aug. 29, 2020.

During the COVID-19 pandemic I believe most of us have developed a renewed sense of comradery amongst all specialties and support staff. Now more than ever, we should work together to facilitate education across various aspects of medicine.

Below Dr. Padmaraj Duvvuri, (currently an Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology fellow at the Medical College of Wisconsin) a critical care enthusiast, shares his experiences in organizing this regional chapter and describes its future endeavors.

What was the rationale for pursuing this chapter?

The short answer is because there was no regional chapter in the three states of Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. But, in all honesty, the answer is a little bit more complex.

In my training at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, care of the patients was very specialized just like in any tertiary medical center (eg, separate neurological, cardiovascular or surgical intensive care units, etc.). While specialized ICUs provide patients with highly trained nurses, physicians and pharmacists, most intensive care units in the country are not as specialized. The first patient could have the usual DKA, the second one may have cardiogenic shock with mechanical circulatory failure, the third with intracranial hemorrhage and the fourth with all three of them together!

After I finished my critical care fellowship, I first worked in a community hospital for personal reasons. Like everyone, I learned much more during my first few months of practice as an intensivist than the two years of fellowship. What I realized is that it is absolutely essential to be a life-long learner and learn from our colleagues who have training from different backgrounds. Additionally, I think there is a lot to learn from cooperation including a consortium of hospitals rather than from within a single hospital or a single healthcare system.

I have religiously attended all SCCM conferences since 2012 and have enjoyed the breadth and extent of involvement of healthcare providers working in different critical care units. As I moved from the East Coast to the Midwest, I realized that there is no local chapter of the SCCM. As I spoke with my colleagues it became clear everyone wanted something like this, it was just a matter of making an initiative.

Describe the process of establishing the Chapter. What were some of the challenges?

The SCCM provides a step-by-step guide on organizing a chapter. A chapter can be geographically as small as Baltimore or Delaware chapters or as large as South East Chapter, which comprises of seven states.

In brief, the steps are:
1. Form a core group whom you can call in the middle of night and talk. 
2. Perform a survey to assess interest in the area you want to make the chapter
3. Make committees and decide on leadership roles.
4. Apply for non-profit incorporation in your state.
5. File for chapter application.

Further steps will depend on the main mothership organization. Being affiliated with an international organization gives you a structure, minimum performance expectation, and yes – credibility.

The first step is to recruit key volunteers. We first brainstormed with a small group and confirmed our commitment to this mission. We recommend having at least 20 volunteers in the beginning. The minimum requirement for a chapter formation may be different for each Society. For SCCM, this was 20. This key group of enthusiastic volunteers agreed to serve on committees, define committee roles, task people with leadership positions, etc. As everyone is a volunteer, it has just to be expected and accepted that not everyone will be actively involved every time. The driving factor in the members should be shared vision and teamwork.

A survey that asked questions such as the need for such a chapter, willingness to join, etc. was distributed to SCCM members. As the answers poured in from hundreds of critical care enthusiasts from all corners of three states, we felt assured that a chapter can be made. The SCCM assigned us with few advisors who had some legal and procedural knowledge in creating a chapter.

The next step was to file for non-profit incorporation with the state of Illinois. Now, I can imagine this step to be very unfamiliar to the readers as it was for me. This just a legal way of telling the state that this organization is for non-profit purpose only and not to generate profit. This involves filling up a few forms which can be a little cumbersome. Filling this form also means that you are obligated to inform the state every year of your membership data, type of activities you did and any fees collected or funds raised.

Describe the make-up of current members.

We have yet to conduct an audit of members. If you are a member of the SCCM Midwest chapter, you can log into the “SCCM connect” and view your colleagues. From what I can see about 50-60% are physicians, the next majority are pharmacists followed by advanced practice providers. There are members who are nurses, physical therapists, administrators and some who chose not to write their professions against their names. Amongst the leadership, the president is a pediatric intensivist, the secretary is an advance practice provider and the board of directors and steering committee have a very heterogeneous mix of anesthesia, neuro, surgical, medical and pediatric critical care providers. Virtually every critical care specialty and profession is represented. We continue to make this chapter truly multi-disciplinary and seek involvement from all practicing environment (academic or non-academic).

What are some future goals for the chapter?

Our mission is to share and disseminate knowledge and skills to provide comprehensive and compassionate patient care through the collaboration of critical care providers to create a global impact on the care of critically ill patients. In addition, our vision is to join the critical care communities of the Midwest states of Illinois, Indiana and Missouri; which are powerhouses of critical care educators, innovators and world-class leaders. This regional cooperation can significantly boost learning from one another and benefit the care provided to our patients. The information and knowledge about critically ill patients are growing exponentially and it can be difficult to remain up to date with the advances in the field. The Midwest Chapter of SCCM will actively seek to question, discuss and critique these developments and uphold the best medical practices. Additionally, skills that are not uniformly acquired in one’s professional training can be enhanced through simulation, discussion and workshops.

The Chapter aims to foster mentorship for young leaders of the future through partnership in fields of research and innovation. The Chapter was officially approved during the May 15, 2019 council meeting of the SCCM. As we have entered the second year of existence, we have abundant opportunities for new members to be in committees and leadership roles. A high level of involvement, contribution and enthusiasm is always needed and appreciated. We encourage you to join the Midwest Chapter of SCCM and get yourself involved. If you do not understand anything, we are a group of coolest guys who can bring you up to the speed.

And finally a note on the inaugural virtual conference on Aug. 29, 2020. Dr. Lewis Kaplan, the current president of the SCCM will give an opening address followed by multiple breakout sessions on hot topics. The whole conference will be recorded for you to review later at your leisure but live attendance is encouraged for ability to participate in the Q&A sessions. A total of 6 CME will be offered for conference attendance. The afternoon portion includes an abstract competition and medical jeopardy!

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