A question I often hear, both in my lab and when I travel, is “How can I get more involved with ASE?” My first response is to ask if the person is a member. Often they tell me they are not. That is usually followed by a short conversation about the benefits of belonging to the ASE, after which I direct them to the Website. At some point I will write a column about how to become more involved with ASE, but since it begins with membership I would like to talk a little bit about that this month.
At the Scientific Sessions I received some updated information about our Society’s membership. Since its inception in 1975, ASE has grown from Dr. Harvey Feigenbaum and a handful of people interested in echocardiography to our current membership level of about 13,000. While I’m not certain how many, if any, of the original members were sonographers, I proud to tell you that currently there are more than 4500 sonographer members ( Figure 1 ). Last year, about 84% of our sonographer members saw the benefit of belonging to ASE and renewed their memberships. These are very strong numbers and demonstrate that ASE is not just a “physician association” and that sonographers represent a high percentage of the total membership and play a key role in planning and operating the society. In fact, in a recent survey of sonographer members, 94% said they would recommend ASE membership to their colleagues – proof that ASE is a valuable resource. While these numbers are something to be proud of, we need to continue to grow the number of cardiac and vascular sonographers in our society. Therefore, I am making a plea to each of you to help me with that task. Not only do I want to see our overall numbers grow; I also want to see even more sonographers show a continued commitment to ASE by renewing their memberships on an annual basis.
If you are already a member of ASE you probably understand the benefits. Please share that information with your coworkers or classmates and ask them to join. To help you with this I have listed what I think are the most important benefits of belonging to the ASE. I want to begin by telling you that it costs ASE about $180 per member to provide the basic member services. 2012 rates for a sonographer will be a reasonable $105. If you are an early career sonographer, meaning less than 4 years from graduation, your cost is $75. For students enrolled in a training program the cost is $50 per year. All of these are well below the costs of other sonographer-related associations.
If you were to ask me what the “elevator speech” is for getting colleagues to join ASE these are the 5 things I would stress the most:
Free CME – Every sonographer member of ASE is provided with a printed and/or electronic version of the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography (JASE). Included in almost every issue is a CME article which members can review, answer test questions and receive 1 free Continuing Medical Education credit. This amounts to at least 10 free CMEs per year. There are also CME webinars on aseuniversity.org , offered at no charge to members.
Social networking – ASE has entered the social networking world with the launch of Connect@ASE , a social network that allows members to connect with one another, ask questions in the forums, share images in the image libraries, and stay in touch with what is happening in each of the councils. Connect@ASE is accessible via your phone or pad device via a mobile membership application. ASE also has a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and of course Facebook.
Advocacy – ASE works hard to ensure that the rights of sonographers are protected when state licensure bills or national legislation like the CARE Bill are introduced. This was evidenced during the passing of licensure bills in Oregon and New Mexico, where ASE provided direct input into halting the bills as they were originally written and was involved in the rewriting of the bills. Advocacy also speaks out on changes in billing and reimbursement, both of which affect sonographer salaries.
Educational products – Membership includes a subscription to JASE, one of the world’s leading publications with regard to cardiovascular ultrasound. The ASE marketplace is filled with educational products including posters, pocket guides, DVD sets and textbooks, all at discounted prices for members. Additional educational material is available on the ASEUniversity Website.
Career guidance – The ASE has performed Sonographer Salary Surveys and made the results available to members at no charge. For many years the annual scientific sessions have included lectures on career pathways, transitioning into management, and educational forums. And one of the biggest accomplishments to date is the recognition of the Advanced Cardiac Sonography profession by the Commission on the Accreditation of Allied Health Programs. This gives the sonographer an additional rung in the career ladder, and would not have happened without the support of ASE physician and sonographer members.
Although these are my Top 5, your list may be different. There are so many more benefits beyond those mentioned that could be included. Here are a few more: liability insurance; special member gifts and promotions; ASE newsletter; international relations; global outreach efforts; coding and reimbursement assistance; Fellow of the American Society of Echocardiography (FASE) program; guidelines and standards; sonographer registry review course; sonographer travel grants; sonographer student educational assistance grants.
We all need to stress to our future members that what they get for being a member outweighs what they pay by a very large margin. In our echo lab, sonographers who are members of ASE utilize these benefits on a daily basis. If each of us can just get one friend or colleague to join, perhaps we can make sonographers the highest membership category in the association. With your help this is a very realistic goal.
Volunteer of the Month
Our Sonographer of the Month is Jeff Hill, RDCS, FASE. Jeff is the program director for the cardiovascular sonographer program at the Sanford-Brown College in Boston, Massachusetts. I have known Jeff for several years and I see him as superb educator, an excellent mentor and good friend. I congratulate Jeff on recently wrapping up a 3 year assignment on the JASE editorial board, where he reviewed dozens of submissions for the journal. Please visit the Sonographer Council page of asecho.org for more information about Jeff.
The American Society of Echocardiography is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.