Presidential Newsletter May 2016

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

This is my last Presidential message, shortly before our Annual Meeting will take place. Aiming to have impact on the spirit of the meeting or - even more important - on EACTA as our Association I want to underline the importance of EACTA as THE forum in Europe for interaction between Cardiovascular and Thoracic Anaesthesiologists and Intensive Care (CTVA&IC) physicians and enthusiasts from Europe and around the globe.

I invite, or maybe even strongly urge you to actively participate in the exciting network of EACTA and its endeavour. Having been in the Directory Board since 2009, after having served in the Representative Council for many years (a lot longer than it is permitted now), allows me to give an overview on how EACTA has faced the challenges of a rapidly changing context of our profession as well as of the globe.

CTVA soared off in the late seventies and eighties, literally co-energizing cardiovascular surgery.  These were the pioneering times where the specialty was constructed from scratch. From the nineties on a less turbulent consolidation phase followed where Education and Research made our CTVA&IC practice more evidence-based. For the last 15 years we have been confronted with interventional cardiology, managed care and economic reality. However, what I retain as the key point in this glimpse of the overview is how much we learned to embrace teamwork as the final common pathway to assure that all EB medicine becomes truly effective and to contribute to safe and effective cardiovascular anaesthesiology, surgery, cardiology and Intensive Care.

Allow me to compare in parallel the history of EACTA - not different from most medical associations. Starting a new Association as was done by EACTA in the late seventies was exciting. I used to call it EACTA 1.0: pioneering and rather informally organized. It resulted in excellent Annual Congresses and embracing TOE education without rivalry within Europe. Subsequently a consolidation phase followed, maybe less exciting but clearly in need of a more formal organisation. EACTA eventually incorporated in Ireland in 2003 and hired professional Conference Management. I call this phase EACTA 2.0: committees were erected like the Scientific Committee and Representative Council (in which I had the honour to represent The Netherlands). However, EACTA 2.0 struggled with its “raison d’être” in an increasingly complex world. Staggering numbers of associations —national and international, real and virtual, general and (sub-) specialized—competed to offer medical education or to promote research, fuelled by continuing medical education requirements and desire or (moral) obligation to increase their citation indices. Today, social networks, electronic communications, and blogs result in a profusion of immediate information and prevail over more “natural” and “old-fashioned” relations and communication.

Clearly EACTA had to reconsider its strategy in order be fit to confront the challenges. During a milestone brainstorm meeting in September 2009 between EACTA members and Board of Directors (BoD) the fundaments for EACTA 3.0 were laid. Clearly risks needed to be taken, but there was consensus that a standstill was not an option. EACTA’s Mission is to develop Education and Research in CTVA&IC in Europe and beyond. Key to realize this was that EACTA needed to transform into a dynamic network open to CTVA&IC enthusiasts from all over the world besides continuing to organize its successful educational events. Therefore a matrix structure was designed and implemented where the different Subspecialty Committee (SSC) open to all members, form the backbone of EACTA. On a higher level, SSC activities are coordinated within the three Permanent Committees. Finally the BoD steers and facilitates with the professional help of the International Conference Services (ICS) since November 2015 our Association Management Company (AMC) and Professional Congress Organizer (PCO). The Representative Council plays an important role as they assist the SSC’s in bringing key players to these SSC’s, proposing ideas, while continuing to play their role as voting Organ of the Society and monitoring the BoD and EACTA in general.

Of course EACTA 3.0 had to face its challenges, e.g. when it had to replace its previous AMC with ICS in November 2015. However, it is more important to realize how much we achieved our objectives and also realise what will remain the challenges for the future.

Our membership is expanding with now - 38 representative Council Members from all over the world, representing almost 800 members. Increasingly members are actively engaging in EACTA’s activities. Beginning in Basel we will develop initiatives for our younger members and find out how we can better match their specific needs. Globally we are developing and maintaining relationships with national CTVA Societies, providing them with opportunities to participate in the activities of the EACTA network.

While the task Forces on Lung Transplantation and Patient Blood Management are under full steam, another strategic and exciting pathway has been started within the Education Committee to define standards for our CTVA&IC specialty, possibly leading to an accreditation pathway. The alliance between EACTA and the Society of Cardiovascular Anaesthesiology as well as our relationship with ESA might be of strategic importance in this matter and should be followed up closely by the Representative Council and the national CTVA Societies they represent. A new Task Force will be erected which, in collaboration with EACTS (European Association of Cardiothoracic Surgeons), will provide guidance and tools to join a European clinical and research database.

Less visible, but also of major importance, is the update of EACTA as a legal association incorporated in Ireland. The Bylaws of the Association EACTA have been updated in support of our vision and objectives. Transparency is achieved by describing the major internal processes into reference documents, operating procedures and job descriptions for EACTA officers as well as for AMC & PCO staff. The RC in Basel will vote upon this.

In conclusion

In order to meet the challenges of the changing medical landscape, EACTA is transformed into a network in which enthusiastic cardiothoracic and vascular anaesthesiologists, intensivists, and related specialists all over the world can meet and work virtually, face to face, or both. This active participation of our members is paying off and will design the landscape of our profession. Strategic alliances have been established with CTVA related specialties. The governance of EACTA has been updated to support the new vision and objectives, and the management has been professionalized to be able to cope with emerging issues effectively.

I am convinced EACTA is geared for the future and is able to cope with future challenges and I am happy to confidently pass the helm of EACTA to Bodil Steen Rasmussen, our next President. Continuing the adopted path will be in good hands.

I take pride in having served EACTA as BoD member and as President for the last seven years. I would like to thank all the BoD members and EACTA officers, with whom I have had the chance to collaborate, in particular the present BoD, as we have navigated rough waters as a team.  

Next week we will have our Annual Congress in Basel, in September we will have an exciting East meets West Echo Course in Istanbul. Top Educational events in CTVA&IC, lots of opportunities to network with colleagues, meet colleagues in a spirit of cameraderie and make new friends.

I hope I have convinced you to grasp the many opportunities that EACTA is offering you.

Warm regards,


Peter MJ Rosseel

President of EACTA