Last June I received the ESA Honorary Member award with great emotion and I am still overwhelmed by the significance of this award. This is the most important honour I have ever received and I am very proud, but also humble as I acknowledge that if my ESA commitments look successful it is because I was supported by wonderful people, dedicated to anaesthesiology and the ESA.
I was born in Bucharest, Romania. I graduated from the University of Medicine “Carol Davila” in Bucharest and I was board certified in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine in Romania in 1990.
My first contact with the European Anaesthesiology was in 1990, when I started a one-year fellowship in cardiac anaesthesia and intensive care medicine in Paris, at Bichat Hospital (Chair: Professor Jean-Marie Desmonts). In Paris, I also followed the courses of the Institute of Anaesthesiology (Rene Descartes University VI), finalised with a memoire on aprotinin and the Diploma of Inter-University Specialisation (DIS) in Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine.
At that time, my father-in-law, Doctor Zorel Filipescu, one of the founders of Anaesthesiology in Romania, member of the European Academy of Anaesthesiology (EAA) and vice-president of the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA), recommended that I apply for the European Examination organised by the EAA. The European Diploma of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (EDAIC) was considered a mark of excellence and a proof of high level of knowledge in our specialty. After passing the Part I and Part II Examinations in 1991 and 1992, respectively, I became the first Romanian anaesthesiologist holding the EDAIC. I joined the EAA in 1993 and I was elected academician of the EAA in 2002. These were crucial steps in my career as a European anaesthesiologist and leader in our profession. That is why I have continuously promoted and supported the implementation of EDAIC in Romania and other countries – promoting excellence in our profession and the excellence of my Eastern colleagues.
My first ESA contact was in 1995, well before the amalgamation of the European Society of Anaesthesiologists, the EAA, and the Confederation of European National Societies of Anaesthesiologists (CENSA), which resulted in the European Society of Anaesthesiology, the ESA of today. The late Professor Pierre Viars, one of the founders of the European Society of Anaesthesiologists, invited me to attend Euroanaesthesia organised in Paris in 1995 and shared with me his vision for a unique organisation to speak with a single powerful voice and represent European Anaesthesiology. His dream came true. Today, with a membership of over 30,000, the ESA truly represents anaesthesiologists throughout Europe. This gives the ESA the authority to speak on behalf of our specialty at a global level, with the aim of reaching the highest standards of care and safety in anaesthesia and intensive care, perioperative, and critical emergency and pain medicine all across Europe.
Since joining the ESA, I have been actively involved in both scientific and educational activities. I served in the amalgamated ESA as a member of the National Anaesthesiologists Societies Committee (NASC) (2007–2008), the Scientific Sub Committee on Transfusion and Haemostasis (2008–2012), the Council (2008–2009), the Board of Directors (2010–2016), and, finally, as President for the 2014–2015 term.
During my terms in different ESA leader positions I have tried to do my best in the interest of our profession and patients. I also tried to stimulate colleagues from less affluent countries to be more active in their profession and the ESA. I never dreamed I would become the first ESA president from an Eastern country, but I have always dreamed of contributing to reducing the opportunity gap between anaesthesiologists from countries with different resources.
When I was elected president I felt the huge responsibility of continuing the work and achievements of the past presidents and Boards of Directors. During my term as president, ESA experienced an important change in its governing and functioning. The major undertaking was the restructuring of the Society to create the necessary stability for the ESA to continue to grow and to continue on the road to success.
Embracing change is difficult and together with my colleagues, in particular the members of the Board of Directors, Council, and Committees, we never lost sight of the Society’s strategic direction. Without the passion and commitment of my colleagues to devote hundreds of hours of volunteer service, we would not have begun this journey of transformation or achieved any of our goals. Despite the challenges, a lot of progress has been made and some notable steps forward have been taken, such as:
- Re-defining the vision and mission of the ESA and the roadmap for the next 10 years;
- Strengthening the relationship with the WFSA and recognition of the ESA as the European Regional Section;
- Strengthening the collaboration with the European Board of Anaesthesiology, part of the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) structure;
- Expanding collaboration with National and International Anaesthesiology organisations in Europe and beyond; these collaborations were formalised as a memorandum of understanding with clear goals and reciprocal benefits;
- Setting up the Patient Safety and Quality Committee, dedicated to working together with National Anaesthesiology Societies to facilitate implementation of the Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety in Anaesthesiology;
- Stimulating the participation of younger colleagues in all the ESA activities by setting a Trainee Committee and supporting launching the Trainee Network;
- Expanding educational activities in terms of both variety of means and number of events;
- Supporting the continuous development of ESA research activities;
- Launching collaborative clinical practice guidelines;
- Involving the ESA membership in the development of the society through surveys;
- Updating the by-laws and policies for a better government of the Society.
All the achievements during my various functions in the ESA are the result of team work, together with volunteer anaesthesiologists and staff from the ESA Secretariat. I have been privileged to be involved in advancing the Society and I am very grateful to all my colleagues and friends in the Board, Council, Committees, and Secretariat for their continuous support! I also thank every member of the ESA for supporting our Society and profession for the benefit of patients and global health.
Currently, as a Council member of the WFSA I will work to make ESA scientific and educational products and achievements useful and affordable to anaesthesiologists all over the world, guided by Henry Ford’s words: ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success’.
I hope that the ESA lifetime Honorary Member I have been awarded during the 2017 Euroanaesthesia ceremonies will stimulate my son who is a student at the University of Medicine in Bucharest and other students and young colleagues to strive for excellence as the way to success in their profession.