In this interview we speak with Anmarie Pfeifer, RN, BSN and Director of EP Patient Services at the Cardiology Clinic of San Antonio, about the South Texas Electrophysiology Society (STEPS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the study of electrophysiology.
When was the South Texas Electrophysiology Society formed, and why? Who can join?
I am a nurse clinician who has worked in electrophysiology for 22 years. It has always been my goal to educate not only my patients but also the staff that I’m involved with. Although I have been privileged to attend many of the national and international EP meetings, many of the staff members who work in the EP labs in the San Antonio area don’t often have that same opportunity. Therefore, it was my brainchild to start an educational networking organization, and last year seemed to finally be the right time. Our main objective is to provide educational opportunities to EP professionals, technical specialists, and allied health professionals through organized meetings on various topics. We have asked for sponsors from industry to bring in speakers to help educate and elevate the discussion of electrophysiology in the San Antonio and south Texas area. STEPS has been extremely well received so far.
Our first meeting took place this past October, and we had a fabulous turnout — fifty-four people attended, including physicians and staff who were invited from different EP labs in the San Antonio area, including Southwest General Hospital, Methodist Healthcare, the Baptist Health System, the University Health System, and the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC).
Rick Sanders, previously VP Scientific Affairs and Education for Boston Scientific, was the speaker at our first event. He helped launch the subcutaneous ICD for Boston Scientific, which is a relatively new technology in San Antonio. Our goal is to hold bimonthly meetings, and we’ve just held our third meeting. Our next meeting, in April 2016, will feature speakers Dr. Marc T. Silver from WakeMed in Raleigh and Dr. Yair Safriel from Clearwater, Florida. Dr. Silver, an electrophysiologist, and Dr. Safriel, a neuroradiologist, will be discussing MRI technology and device compatibility.
Is STEPS associated with your institution?
It is an independent organization — we do not have an affiliation with a hospital system. I have contacted the Heart Rhythm Society about a possible affiliation, but have not yet heard back. I am a member of HRS and hope to become a fellow within the next year.
Approximately how many members are there currently? Tell us more about some of the upcoming events that STEPS will be participating in.
We’re in the process of trying to form a core group, currently made up of about 30 members. STEPS does not charge any membership fees and is open to electrophysiologists, allied professionals (APs), technical specialists, and industry. Our purpose is to be both a social and educational organization, and help individuals get to know one other and share information to ultimately improve the quality of care to our patients.
There are so many things that we want to do as a group. Our next meeting in April is during the Fiesta San Antonio event, which is an annual festival that takes place in San Antonio. Therefore, we’re getting commemorative “Fiesta” medals made up for our April meeting, and hope to keep it going year after year. In October or November of this year we’re also planning a fun run to promote awareness of sudden cardiac death. Participants will receive a black ribbon with a red heart on it, and the run will be dedicated to my brother, who died of sudden cardiac arrest at age 51.
Why is it beneficial for EP professionals to get involved with STEPS?
For me, it’s always been very stimulating and exciting to learn, and I know that every time I’ve gone to a meeting, I come back invigorated and wanting to know more. We have already received a great response from people wanting to know when the next STEPS meeting is scheduled and if they can attend. We’re trying to reach a broad audience, and we want both physicians and staff to get something out of it. Overall, I think people are looking for more educational opportunities and want to become more involved.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Check out our group page on Facebook — we’ll have our website up and running soon — we post different articles and hope to start a dialogue with physician and allied professional input!