Review of a Virtual Anesthesia Resident Research Day

  • Agarwal, Rita, MD, FAAP, FASA
  • Pearl, Ronald, MD, PhD, FASA
  • Brock-Utne, John, MD
| Jun 22, 2020


Due to COVID-19, most anesthesia resident research meetings were canceled throughout the United States. In California, there were two canceled events where there was an opportunity for residents to present their work. One was the Western Anesthesia Resident Conference (WARC), which Dr. Ted Eger started over 50 years ago. The canceled WARC 2020 was to be hosted by Stanford University in the beginning of May. The other canceled event was the CSA Annual meeting that was scheduled in San Diego in April. The CSA Annual Meeting already reviewed and accepted multiple abstracts and research presentations by residents, fellows, and medical students. The meeting would have included the presentation of the winner of the CSA’s First Resident History Essay Award

In order to give California residents an opportunity to share their research and/or case reports, CSA created a Virtual Resident Research Day on June 13, 2020. A call was put out to Program Directors throughout California and via CSA emails blasts, encouraging residents, fellows, medical students and other trainees to submit their abstracts. We received almost 100 submissions. The 13 best abstracts in addition to the Resident History Essay winner were chosen for live virtual presentations. All submitted abstracts were posted on the CSA website.  

We believe it is important to provide additional details to our CSA members on this unique, educational, and fun event. This will allow us to prepare for the future in case we continue to have limited opportunities for in-person meetings. 


We were fortunate to have CSA and President Christine Doyle, MD, FASA, enthusiastically support this venture. Dr. Pearl as Chair of the CSA Educational Programs Division (EPD), formed a subcommittee to organize the Research Day and to review submissions. The subcommittee’s members (in alphabetical order) included, Drs. Rita Agarwal, Richard Applegate, Eugenia Aryian, Adam Milam (Chief Resident), Ron Pearl, Vivianne Tawfik, and John Brock-Utne (Chair).  

We advertised the CSA Resident Research Day by calling for abstracts on the CSA website and writing several blogs about the event to better inform CSA members. We sent invitations out two weeks prior to the abstract deadline to all California program residency directors and department chairs. We were delighted to receive over 100 submissions. Sadly, we could only accept 14 abstracts for the virtual presentation. 

Up to 48 hours before the event, all 14 presenters performed a trial run with Dr. Agarwal and the CSA’s Meeting and Education Manager Rachel Hickerson. This was essential to the success of the event. Ms. Hickerson created a shared file to store a copy of all 14 presentations, sent out Zoom invitations, and helped organize the practice days. In addition, she made herself available to anyone who wanted or needed additional practice sessions. Dr. Agarwal critiqued the slides for content, legibility, and visual impact. All the talks were timed and the importance of remaining on time was stressed.


The Virtual Resident Research day presentation event was 100 minutes during the morning of June 13. Over 80 people attended the Zoom event. We attempted to allow participation on Facebook Live but had technical difficulties with bandwidth. 

Each of the 14 presentations included a five-minute presentation using “talk over” of their Powerpoint slides, followed by one minute for response to questions which were asked using the chat box. The trainees had their own link and could control the slide advancement. The audience listened in via their own link. Dr. Agarwal who kept track of time, introduced the speakers, and monitored both the chat and Q&A functions for questions and comments. 

During the Q&A the next speaker shared their screen and their slides. Everyone stayed on time! Dr. Pearl assigned judges prior to the event to choose the top presentations. He received and reviewed the scores from the nine judges in real time via Google Docs. The final presentation was the CSA Inaugural Resident History Essay Winner. Following that presentation, Dr. Agarwal announced the three abstract winners without any additional delays. 

First place went to Varina R. Clark, BS, from UCLA. She won $1,000 for her presentation on “In Vivo Knockdown of Snail is a Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Right Ventricular Failure”. Second place went to Sydney Hemphill, BS, from Stanford. She won $500 for her presentation on “Quantifying Virtual Reality Pain Modulation in Healthy Volunteers through Ice Immersion”.  Third place went to Alexandra Ruan, MD, from Stanford. She won $250 for her presentation on “The Effect of Night Float Rotations on Resident Sleep, Activity, and Wellbeing”.  

All three winners will get a discount in the registration fee for the upcoming CSA 2021 Annual Meeting in San Diego held April 15-18. First place received a 100% reduction, second place received 50%, and third place received 25%.

What we learned and our recommendations for future events.

1. The mandatory practice session was essential for the success of the presentation day. 

2. Judges who had difficulty using the Google Docs could email their scores to the central judge for entry.  

3. Given the range of topics presented, multiple prize categories should be established. We would suggest (1) basic science/data base studies, (2) Clinical studies both prospective and retrospective, and (3) case reports. 

4. A large number of judges representing all the different participating institutions are needed to get an adequate number of scores. Since the scores tend to cluster, we suggest deleting the highest and the lowest scores so that a single score does not bias the results. 

The feedback on the Virtual Resident Research Day has been uniformly positive. We are prepared to repeat it again next year, but hope that this is not necessary, since there is no substitute for the excitement and interactions of a real live meeting. 

Respectfully submitted,

Ronald Pearl MD, PhD, FASA, Chair of CSA EPD

Rita Agrawal MD, FASA, Moderator of the session

John Brock-Utne MD, PhD, Chair of Virtual Anesthesia Resident Research Day 2020

PS. Below are copies of the letters we wrote as it relates to the meeting:

1. An invitation to present


2. Abstract guidelines





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