The first few years in practice bring a mix of emotions, a host of new opportunities and experiences, evolving personal and professional demands, and recalibrated expectations for what professional support should look like. As young anesthesiologists ourselves – one year and four years in practice – we bookend this critical period. Hailing from different parts of the country, we bring different perspectives to the question of what early-career anesthesiologists need most. We agree that ASA’s ambitious Early-Career Membership Program is a finely tuned solution that will truly engage our peers and deliver real value.

As the cost of medical education soars, many of us are entering the profession with sky-high debt. It’s hard to overstate the role this debt plays in decision-making for many young anesthesiologists who are just beginning to adjust to new circumstances – the debt may be familiar, but the payments, and income, are new. Balancing this new financial reality can be a heavy lift, so any help is welcome. A program that offers three years of membership for a one-time $299 payment (for a value of up to $4,638) opens doors and delivers the value we need. Making membership more affordable is only one way ASA is working to help our cohort adapt and thrive.

New attendings want much more than a bargain. We want to be seen and to feel heard at a time when many of us are losing the day-to-day peer groups that supported us through residency. Along with a new group of colleagues, the tempo of life changes. Many of us realize more free time now that we’re no longer studying all the time, which means whatever work-life balance we’d managed to find during residency needs retooling. The short-term goals that fueled us through medical school and residency come to a screeching halt once we pass our board exams. We’re urged to transition from sprinters to marathon runners overnight. Meanwhile, we’re shifting from being supervisees to supervisors, a transition that can trigger bouts of imposter syndrome. All this change can lead to well-being challenges. Young anesthesiologists need support, resources, and opportunities pitched to this distinctive moment.

When you are thrown into the deep end of something new, targeted support that offers real value with minimal investment is welcome. The value of the Early-Career Membership Program stems in part from the savings, of course, but perhaps even more important are the resources and opportunities it provides for physicians in their early years that are specifically designed to meet our unique needs.

Networking, relationship building, and mentorship are at the heart of ASA membership, spawning enduring communities, keeping us connected to old peers, and helping us forge new relationships. That’s important because, as anesthesiologists, we often work alone, siloed off from colleagues. Fostering connections makes our work more meaningful, prevents burnout, promotes wellness, and can lead to career-changing opportunities. Active and purposeful mentorship, supported by ASA membership, is an essential part of any young anesthesiologist’s career. The many networking opportunities membership delivers help us develop bonds with peers who share our goals and experiences. These connections can open a universe of new opportunities, so we’re delighted that ASA is making membership and the links that come with it easier to achieve.

Education is equally important. Educational resources are aimed at helping first-year attendings prepare for board exams and include free CME courses, including ACE and Summaries of Emerging Evidence (SEE) offerings. The Early-Career Membership Program reminds us that learning does not stop with training and helps us embrace our new role as lifelong learners. From clinical and financial literacy advice to wellness and leadership tips, a wealth of resources is available and promoted when we need them most. The rewards of early membership – grant application opportunities and national leadership opportunities, events, networking, advocacy, CME, resources, and more – are essential for young anesthesiologists like us as we adapt to new leadership roles both within our institutions and the world beyond.

We all want to be seen. So, when our specialty society intentionally crafts a program just for us, it feels good. Organized medicine can sometimes appear to be created for, and aimed at, experts and late-career physicians. But the Early-Career Membership Program is ASA’s way of saying, “we’re your partner and we’re here to help.” These bold steps will help our cohort flourish, and we look forward to supporting ASA’s efforts to nurture and grow young anesthesiologists into the leaders of tomorrow.