Vital Times 2017 - 77

A Commencement Address to
Anesthesiologist Assistants
By	Karen	Sibert,	MD,	FASA	|	CSA	President	

A

commencement address delivered on August 5, 2017,
to the 2017 class of anesthesiologist assistants (AAs),
Emory University.
Distinguished faculty, graduates, honored guests:
It is a great pleasure and an honor to be here, and to
congratulate all the graduates of the Emory University
Class of 2017 on your tremendous accomplishment.
Just think about all you have learned in the past two
years. You've transformed yourselves into real anesthesia
professionals, able to deliver first-class care to patients at
some of the most critical times in their lives.
Today is a great time to become an anesthesiologist
assistant. Just two days ago, Dr. Jerome Adams was
confirmed as our country's Surgeon General. He is the
first-ever physician anesthesiologist to have that honor.
Even better, he is from Indiana, where he was the State
Health Commissioner, and of course, Indiana is among
the states where CAAs are licensed to practice. We
know that Dr. Adams understands the principles of the
anesthesia care team. Dr. Adams gets it - who AAs are,
what you do, and how well qualified you are to care for
your patients.
Another happy thought - the Secretary of Health and
Human Services today is Dr. Tom Price from Georgia,
an orthopedic surgeon, and a former Representative in
Congress. His wife, Betty, is a physician anesthesiologist
who currently serves in the Georgia state legislature.

Whatever your opinions about politics (and believe me,
we're not going there today), whether your blood runs red
or blue, I think we can all celebrate the fact that we now
have people in key positions who understand anesthesia;
whose presence in Washington is great for AAs, for
patients, and for the practice of safe, team-based anesthesia
care.

All about great medical discoveries
As I thought about what to say to you today, the first
thing that occurred to me is that this summer marks 30
years since I finished my anesthesia training. You might
be curious to know if I ever had any second thoughts, any
regrets about that career choice. My answer is a resounding
NO!
I was lucky enough to get interested in anesthesia at an
early age. I brought something to show you. This book
was published in 1960. It's called All About Great Medical
Discoveries, and I read it when I was a little girl about 8
or 9 years old, in Amarillo, Texas. Here's what it had to say
about anesthesia, in a chapter caller "The Conquest of Pain:"
"It is almost impossible for us to imagine the horror of surgical
operations before the discovery of methods for putting the
patient to sleep.
Operating rooms were usually located in separate buildings or
in towers so that the other patients in the hospital would not
hear the screams of the patient. It sometimes took as many as
six husky men to hold the patient still. Because of the terrible
(continued)

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