Circulation 122,210 • Volume 33, No. 3 • February 2019   Issue PDF

APSF Grant Alumni Academy: “Serve as a Mentor and Be Mentored”

Richard D. Urman MD, MBA, FASA; Jeffrey B. Cooper, PhD

The APSF Board of Trustees recently approved the establishment of the APSF Grant Alumni Academy (AGAA). The vision of the AAGA is an organized, active community of prior and current research and career development grant recipients who are strongly engaged with APSF. AGAA members will promote the mission of APSF related to safety research, education, mentorship, safety programs, and campaigns, and facilitate an exchange of information and ideas about those topics. Short- and long-term goals are outlined in Table 1. The goal of the workshop held during the ASA Annual meeting in San Francisco in October 2018 was to introduce AGAA to the alumni and begin to deepen their engagement with APSF.

Table 1. AGAA Short and Long-term Goals

  1. Create an organized community/network of “alumni” volunteers previously or currently supported by APSF.
  1. Highlight short- and long-term outcomes/successes of funded research and impact on patient safety.
  1. Facilitate fundraising activities with the help and support of alumni volunteers.
  1. Engage, through mentorship, anesthesia trainees and junior practitioners interested in clinical innovation and research aspects of patient safety.
  1. Act as a resource for the APSF leadership to assist with strategic initiatives (Education, Research, Special Projects, Fundraising).

Most importantly, the APSF research program has seeded anesthesia patient safety with many leaders both in research and clinical application. The program continues to be strong and vibrant but there is much more room to grow. Dr. Cooper emphasized the need to mentor up-and-coming perioperative patient safety scientists, and that AGAA was formed to both recognize and honor those who have been awarded grants over the years and to elicit support to continue the success. Dr. Karen Domino gave an overview of how APSF grant support helped advance her academic career as well as the value of good mentorship, while Dr. Steven Howard discussed the current state of the APSF grant program and highlighted its successes.

During the workshop, Dr. Mark Warner delivered an introductory statement outlining the importance of engaging a wider patient safety community and how it fits into the strategic mission of APSF, as well as his expectations from AGAA. Dr. Richard Urman then spoke about the rationale for forming the AAGA and described its vision and short- and long-term goals. Dr. Jeffrey Cooper described how the APSF research program began over 30 years ago and that it has provided support for well over 115 principal investigators and many more co-investigators. It has led to substantial learning about a spectrum of topics, including many that have found their way into practice either directly or indirectly such as identification of predictors of patients at increased risk for adverse outcomes, prevention or early diagnosis of adverse outcomes, methods for study of low-frequency events, education and training in safety (especially simulation-based training), and measurements of cost effectiveness of technologies designed to increase patient safety.1

We are compiling a comprehensive list of all prior grant and career development recipients to facilitate communication among members, including the use of social media. We hope to provide resources for both mentees and mentors, as much of the discussion revolved around capacity-building to enable mentorship of those interested in patient safety. We strategized about specifically how to engage those who want to be mentored (e.g., trainees and junior clinicians and scientists) and those who want to serve as mentors. We will be reaching out to potential mentors who might be willing to serve in a variety of roles ranging from being an informal career advisor to a research collaborator. All agreed that good mentorship is about helping the mentee learn and refine new skills, two-way communication and availability, open-mindedness, setting expectations, building collaborator networks, and providing honest and timely feedback. We also discussed how to best achieve short- and long-term outcomes and successes of funded research and impact on patient safety, how to best act as a resource for the APSF leadership to assist with their strategic initiatives (e.g., education, research, affiliations), and finally, how alumni can facilitate fundraising and organizational development activities.

You can expect to hear more from us in the coming months as we further develop our priorities and activities. We also encourage you to contact us with any suggestions or interest in being involved.


Dr. Urman is associate professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Anesthesiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA.

Dr. Urman has received APSF research funding in the past.

Jeffrey Cooper is past executive vice president of the APSF, and he has been an active member of the APSF Executive Committee from 1985 to October 1, 2018. He is also professor of anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care & Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


  1. Urman RD, Posner KL, Howard SK, Warner MA. 2017 marks 30 years of APSF research grants. APSF Newsletter. 2018;32:61–63. Accessed December 10, 2018.