Professional Societies in Anesthesia

Professional societies in healthcare can create opportunities for providers to connect, network, and continue to learn. Like other medical fields, anesthesia has many professional societies.

One of the most prominent ones for anesthesiologists is the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). The ASA supports its members by advocating for their physical and psychological health, lobbying on legislative issues that affect healthcare and medicine, and giving members access to the latest research and guidelines, through various resources, such as the Anesthesiology Journal.1 It can support physicians because of its association with several boards, some of which the ASA founded. In 2008, the ASA established the Anesthesia Quality Institute to facilitate practice-based quality management. This committee provides information for quality improvement in clinical anesthesiology to lower anesthesia mortality, reduce anesthesia incidents, and provide patients with quality care. Health and Human Services (HHS) has listed AQI as a Patient Safety Organization (PSO), and CMS has approved AQI NACOR as a Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR). Anesthesiologists are encouraged to make use of the reports on this website to improve patient care and outcomes.3

In terms of professional societies on the international level, the largest within anesthesia is the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists. Founded in 1959 and an ASA partner, the WFSA is a global alliance that promotes universal access to safe anesthesia. To do this it advocates for improvement in facilities and equipment, medications, intravenous fluids, monitoring, and anesthesia conduct. Several recommendations are made by the WFSA to hospitals to ensure professional standards are met. The continuous presence of a qualified and prudent anesthesia provider is important to ensure continuous monitoring of tissue oxygenation and perfusion with a pulse oximeter. Other clinical behaviors that are promoted include the monitoring of blood pressure intermittently and the confirmation that an endotracheal tube has been correctly placed (if used) by auscultation; carbon dioxide detection; a system for transfer of care following an anesthetic; and the use of the WHO Safe Surgery Checklist.2

The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) is dedicated to the mission that “no patient should suffer harm from anesthesia” and one of their projects is identifying impaired physicians in the workplace and providing avenues for safe reporting. The APSF works with hospitals to prevent drug diversion through the careful monitoring and dispensing of controlled substances. Unfortunately, about 11-15% of anesthesiologists in clinical practice engage in substance abuse and this has been linked to anesthesia accidents.6

 Finally, the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) is an organization that encourages improvements in anesthesiology through education, research, and scientific advancement. The FAER grant system provides practitioners of anesthesiology interested in pursuing basic science, clinical, translational, or educational research with financial support. Mentored Research Training Grants are available to faculty who have completed their residency training within the last ten years. Other FAER grants include the anesthesiology research grant for trainees who have fulfilled CA-1 year eligibility, the transition to independence grant, and finally the research in education grant for faculty members of any rank to conduct research that will improve the quality and effectiveness of anesthesiology education.5

These professional societies and organizations provide valuable structures for anesthesia providers in modern medicine, with increasingly complex clinical cases, techniques and skills, and healthcare landscape.


  1. Methangkool, Emily, et al. “Are Anesthesiology Societies at Risk of Becoming Obsolete? Perspectives on Challenges and Opportunities for Moving Forward.” International Anesthesiology Clinics, vol. Publish Ahead of Print, Aug. 2020, doi:10.1097/aia.0000000000000290.
  2. Gelb, Adrian W., et al. “World Health Organization-World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WHO-WFSA) International Standards for a Safe Practice of Anesthesia.” Anesthesia & Analgesia, vol. 126, no. 6, June 2018, pp. 2047–55, doi:10.1213/ane.0000000000002927.
  3. Dutton, Richard P. “Practice Management 2015: Using AQI Data to Create Practice Value.” ASA Monitor 79.6 (2015): 34-35.
  4. Hannenberg, Alexander A., and John F. Capacchione. “Anesthesiologists Caring for Others.” ASA Monitor 77.3 (2013): 32-35.
  5. Pagel, Paul S., and Judith A. Hudetz. “Scholarly productivity and national institutes of health funding of foundation for anesthesia education and research grant recipients: insights from a bibliometric analysis.” Anesthesiology 123.3 (2015): 683-691.
  6. Van Pelt, Maria, et al. “Drug Diversion in the Anesthesia Profession: How Can Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation Help Everyone Be Safe? Report of a Meeting Sponsored by the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation.” (2019): e2-e4.