Council on Cardiovascular Sonography: going strong at 20!

Oi Ling B. Kwan, RDCS

Cardiac sonographers have always played an important role in echocardiography. Whether applying the technology daily as a diagnostic tool, participating in research and development of techniques and equipment, or training the next generation of sonographers, physicians, and scientists, we can have significant influence on the outcomes for our patients. As we celebrate the 20 th anniversary of the ASE Council on Cardiovascular Sonography, it is interesting to give a historical account from the perspective of the first chair of the council.

In the 1970s and 1980s, echocardiography experienced rapid growth as a diagnostic tool due to the research and development of new equipment, techniques, and applications. The research and development were collaborative efforts between physicians and technologists. (Yes, that’s what we were called then, and yes some of us took equipment apart and did minor repairs as well.) Often, we were required to perform what seemed to be impossible tasks, tweaking equipment to find the best combination of various knobs and dials while holding the image steady for what felt like hours as we tried to capture the “representative” images for the pathology or “interesting” case.

In 1975, ASE came into existence, with Dr. Feigenbaum as the first president. Membership in the early days of ASE consisted mostly of cardiologists and sonographers. The Executive Committee members were exclusively physicians. However, a few sonographers were elected to serve on the Board of Directors and various committees. It was not until 1991 that a sonographer began to serve on the Executive Committee.

My involvement with the ASE began in 1985 when I joined during the presidency of my mentor, Dr. Anthony DeMaria. I served on the Sonographer Training and Education Committee from 1986–1991 and on the Board of Directors from 1988–1990. I was also part of the planning committees for first two scientific sessions, participated as faculty in multiple scientific sessions, and was elected to the Executive Committee in 1991 as Secretary.

As recognition of the importance and application of echocardiography as a diagnostic tool grew, so did the ASE membership. Cardiac surgeons and anesthesiologists were among those joining ASE. While Dr. Weyman was president, ASE recognized that the needs of the pediatric cardiologists, surgeons, and anesthesiologists may differ from those of the adult cardiologists. It was suggested during one of the Executive Committee meetings that a Council on Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease and a Council on Intraoperative Echocardiography be established to support their specific interests. As the only nonphysician on the Executive Committee, I recognized this opportunity and suggested that a council for sonographers be established as well. My suggestion was for two main reasons: (1) to promote and increase physician awareness and understanding of issues which are important to sonographers, and (2) to provide better communication between the Board and the sonographer members on issues which may impact on sonographers. Hence, the Council of Cardiovascular Sonography was to be the representative body for all sonographer members of ASE and address issues which affect the practice and profession of the cardiac sonographer. I was appointed by the board as the first chair for the sonographer council. Drs. Arthur Weyman, Julius Gardin, and Alan Pearlman provided much guidance and support in the development of the council. Dr. Pearlman was also the first physician advisor to the Council on Cardiac Sonography.

The three councils were charged with the following:

  • Support these interest areas by communicating issues of importance to the membership

  • Provide guidance to the board on specialty issues

  • Provide a forum for members with similar interests to network

  • Appoint directors to the board (as council representatives)

  • Provide guidance on standards of care related to specialty fields to the board and the Guidelines and Standards Committee

  • Provide guidance to the scientific program committee regarding appropriate educational offerings for specialty areas

Since there were no road maps for the formation of the council board, sonographers recognized for their talents as educators and researchers, dedication to the field, and willingness to represent their peers were enlisted. I also felt it was important to include sonographer representatives from different geographic locations across the country and to include diverse organizations, such as teaching hospitals, university medical centers, and private practices as much as possible.

The first order of business was to survey our members to identify the important issues. A number of the sonographers at that time felt that our needs and aspirations were not fully recognized by the physician members. Therefore, the council recommended to the ASE Board that (1) the ASE Nominating Committee consider more sonographers as candidates for election to the ASE Board as seats become vacant, and (2) the ASE Board increase the number of sonographers serving on standing committees. These recommendations were based on the membership data from 1990-1993 ( Table 1 ). I am happy to report that as of today, the number of sonographer officers has doubled from 1993.

Jun 1, 2018 | Posted by in CARDIOLOGY | Comments Off on Council on Cardiovascular Sonography: going strong at 20!

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