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President’s Message - Preparing For a Main Event

Ruth M. Kleinpell, RN-CS, PhD, FAAN, FCCM

Main events in life are those that are memorable and enjoyable—we look forward to them in anticipation. Plans to attend an upcoming sports event, a surprise party for a relative, a cruise to celebrate an anniversary—main events make life meaningful because they bring opportunities to take time out of our daily routines and partake in new experiences.

The Main Event was a 1979 American sports romantic comedy film starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. It focused on a prizefighting boxer and the search for fortune. The movie was among the top 20 highest-grossing films of the year at the box office. Its theme song was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and won a People’s Choice Award. In life, as in the movies, we enjoy preparing for and experiencing main events—especially those that offer exciting opportunities.

47th Critical Care Congress
Among the various SCCM educational events, the Annual Congress is a Society main event. The Society’s Congress is the largest critical care event that brings together all members of the multiprofessional, multidisciplinary team. The four-day event features internationally renowned faculty and content sessions highlighting the most up-to-date, evidence-based developments in critical care medicine. At Congress, many of the committees, task forces, and guideline groups also hold business meetings. The SCCM Council also holds one-day business meetings before Congress starts and on its last day. Along with preand post-Congress educational sessions, the annual induction of new Fellows of the American College of Critical Care Medicine, award presentations, abstract presentations, and other events, it is a busy time for staff as well as attendees, who take advantage of educational offerings, networking, and meeting with colleagues and friends. 

The 47th Critical Care Congress will be held February 25-28, 2018, in San Antonio, Texas, USA, at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center on the San Antonio River Walk. The River Walk winds along the banks of the San Antonio River one level down from the street. Its two parallel sidewalks, lined with restaurants and shops, connect major tourist draws such as the San Antonio Museum of Art and the city’s five Spanish colonial missions, including the Alamo, which has been named a World Heritage Site. 

Planning for the Annual Congress is a huge feat that entails securing the meeting location eight to 10 years in advance. Currently, future Congress sites are confirmed up to the year 2024. Visit to see the list of future sites. SCCM staff conduct site visits to meet with local city and hotel planners to ensure adequate facilities and accommodations for the more than 6,000 attendees.

The SCCM Congress Program Committee meets face to face at Congress and again in the fall at SCCM headquarters in Chicago. Co-chairs and committee members work yearlong via an online workspace to plan and organize the many educational sessions and events that are held at the annual meeting. SCCM members also contribute to program planning ideas. This year alone, members submitted 272 concurrent session submissions and 1,918 abstract submissions.

I had the pleasure of serving two terms on the SCCM Congress Program Committee and as program co-chair for the 40th Annual Congress in 2011, held in San Diego, California, USA. I can personally attest to the hard work and dedication of the Congress Program Committe and of SCCM staff each year to make the SCCM Congress a success!

New Congress Features
Each year, new components are added to Congress. The 2018 Congress will include several new features, including:

  • Roundtable discussions in the Exhibit Hall that will address critical care topics and provide the opportunity to network with peers and discuss a variety of professional, career, and leadership topics.
  • Tech Labs that will offer attendees the chance to learn how to make the best use of evolving and rapidly changing technologies that are important for professional success. Technology demonstrations, experiential learning, social media analysis, and tech talks about a variety of topics will be featured.
  • Expanded crosstalk debates that will be featured in the Exhibit Hall.
  • Nearly 90 concurrent sessions sessions that will cover a variety of topics and include joint sessions with key partner organizations such as the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine, World Health Organization, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and Critical Care Societies Collaborative, among others.​
Public Health Fair
For the first time ever, SCCM will hold a public education health event in conjunction with the Critical Care Congress on Saturday, February 24, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The event focuses around being prepared to help a loved one during a health emergency. Collaborating with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, St. Philip’s College, and other nonprofit organizations, the event will teach and raise awareness on healthcare issues, including automated external defibrillator training, cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, and information on heart disease, stroke, and atrial fibrillation. Education theaters will offer an opportunity for participants and, where applicable, caregivers to interact with healthcare providers regarding health risk assessments, sepsis identification, post-intensive care syndrome, and other critical care healthcare conditions. Information on how SCCM members can become involved in the event will be provided as the planning details are confirmed. This is a unique, location-specific opportunity to provide an event that engages and educates the public, which is one of SCCM’s long-standing goals.

Texas Landscape
As it prepares for Congress, SCCM continues to monitor various legislative initiatives aimed at minority populations in Texas. Texas was not considering any of these laws 10 years ago when SCCM made contractual plans to hold Congress in San Antonio. The Society’s leadership and membership are concerned that certain of Texas’s legislative efforts do not embrace the diversity and inclusion that are central to SCCM’s mission. SCCM leadership consulted with our members, with chapter leaders in Texas, and with those in California, which has restricted travel to Texas by state employees. In March 2017, SCCM activated its Congress relocation protocol, a routine procedure for when anything occurs that might interrupt the successful operation of the Society’s largest event. The Society dispatched a staff team to San Antonio to learn more about these pieces of legislation and to share our concerns with elected leaders in Texas. Staff also gathered data on other possible venues for Congress and considered our legal options regarding contracts. Additionally, the Council received input from the SCCM Diversity Committee and a number of individual members who reached out to share their concerns. After reviewing this information and the limited cities available to host Congress, the Society leadership decided to remain in San Antonio. SCCM operates programs in challenging locations worldwide, where we do not always agree with the political issues of the region. However, the Society’s commitment to improving care of the critically ill remains at the forefront of our decisionmaking. SCCM remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all members of the critical care community and will continue to monitor ongoing developments and provide updates at under the Congress Location Updates page.

Your Next Main Event
Life is a series of main events—new job opportunities, birthday parties, weddings, graduations, and countless other occasions and celebrations. What’s your next main event? I hope that attending the 47th Annual Critical Care Congress is on your list! I look forward to seeing you in San Antonio!