President's Message - The Efficacy of Collaboration

2014 - 5 October – 44th Critical Care Congress Advance Program
J. Christopher Farmer, MD, FCCM
SCCM President J. Christopher Farmer, MD, FCCM, discusses the efficacy of collaboration.

​I can hardly believe that it is time again to make plans to attend the Critical Care Congress. In my presidential address last year, I asked attendees to consider what kind of future we will build as critical care professionals. I stressed that our future was bigger than the intensive care unit (ICU) and urged us to think beyond the boundaries of the ICU. Critical care is not a place.

It has been a gratifying and humbling experience to share and to learn from our critical care colleagues all around the world. Critical care is truly boundless. The mutual challenges that we face are the same songs, sung in different languages. The chorus of these songs highlights our future, our mandate -- critical care prevention. The most efficacious critical care is the critical care that you never need. Efforts to improve patient care are not exclusive to the bedside. They are sparked in classrooms when new ideas are presented; they flourish in hands-on sessions where clinicians improve their skills; and they evolve over coffee where colleagues hatch new strategies. As you make plans to attend this year’s Congress, keep your patients with you as you move from room to room. Return to them when you walk the Exhibit Hall and find new innovations from our industry partners. Keep them close when you reunite with colleagues over dinner.
Our Congress Program Planning committee, led by Congress co-chairs Greg S. Martin, MD, MSc, FCCM, and Lauren R. Sorce, ACNP, CCRN, FCCM, has worked hard to envision and create a stellar program this year. On behalf of all of us, I’d like to extend my personal thanks to members of this group for their commitment, creativity and active role in seeking partnerships for enhanced learning opportunities.

Their efforts exemplify partnership and shared learning. Consider attending our hands-on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Management course, developed in partnership with the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. Also, the Critical Care Skills Lab, held in collaboration with the American College of Emergency Physicians, is designed to improve practitioner competence at invasive procedures fundamental to resuscitation and emergency patient stabilization. Need to improve outcomes during the first hours of a patient’s neurological emergency? Consider taking the Emergency Neurological Life Support course offered in conjunction with the Neurocritical Care Society. Ongoing collaboration via a special course with the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care will also be held.

During the year, the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) also began working with the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and the Association of Physician Assistants in Cardiovascular Surgery on educational programming that will be available to you in the coming year. We were also pleased to finalize an agreement that combines the Pan American and Iberian Congress of Critical Care and Intensive Therapy with the SCCM Congress in 2020. Seeking ways to sustain reduced infections related to urinary catheters in the ICU, SCCM is partnering with the American Hospital Association and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in a collaborative project with hospitals in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. In addition to local meetings, distance coaching and data collection, a meeting of the collaborative participants will be held at the SCCM Congress in Phoenix.

These joint efforts to provide outstanding educational programming galvanize and underscore our shared vision of improved patient care. SCCM is dedicated to forming relationships such as these for numerous projects. In continued partnership with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Society’s Surviving Sepsis Campaign brought together the Society of Hospital Medicine, Adventist Health System and almost 60 hospitals to participate in a collaborative activity to identify and improve care of patients with sepsis who are not yet in an ICU. The Foundation also joined SCCM in furthering the development of our ICU Liberation campaign focused on reducing the harmful effects of pain, agitation and delirium in the ICU.
Our newest collaboration is with the Hellman Family Foundation, who will join us and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine in a pilot project to improve sepsis care in resource-limited nations. The pilot will take place at Gitwe Hospital, Ruhango District, in the Southern Province of Rwanda.
Working to disseminate patient-centered outcomes research, the Society partnered with AHRQ to launch the Project Dispatch program. Numerous communication and educational activities were held on topics throughout the year, including collaborating with families to improve care during transitions, pet and music therapy, using the FS-ICU instrument to improve family satisfaction, and improving psychological distress among critical illness survivors. To access these resources, visit

Collaboration is a key to providing high-quality education in the modern age. In a time when extensive information is available on any topic at the click of a button, it is our ability to share and build upon resources, ideas and knowledge that will move us forward. I look forward to seeing all of you in Phoenix and being part of this larger movement to break down the walls of critical care.