Passing the Torch of Leadership—The Bridge of Continued Excellence

Patrick D. Coon, RCCS, RDCS, FASE, Chair, Council on Cardiovascular Sonography

Every two years the American Society of Echocardiography has a changing of the guard with respect to the Council on Cardiovascular Sonography. Over the past two years we have been fortunate to have had Elizabeth McIlwain as our council chair who has overseen many positive things for cardiac sonographers. Just to name a few: recommendations for radiation safety for the cardiac sonographer, numerous humanitarian efforts in places that sorely need medical help, and unheralded leadership with respect to licensure and the future of our profession. My only hope is that I, as council chair, will be able to fill her shoes as she steps back from the council leadership. But Elizabeth isn’t off the hook! She can guarantee that I will be picking her brain and continuing to ask for her guidance as we move forward. Fortunately for me, we also have a terrific team moving up the council leadership and as a team, we will continue to strive and work for you and our profession to make sure we remain an integral part of the clinical and research cardiac team.

I still remember my first experience with ASE (I don’t want to admit it, but it was almost 20 years ago). At the time, I was working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a young staff sonographer when Dr. Jack Rychik told me that he had submitted my name to ASE as a recommendation to serve on the pediatric council. To put it mildly, I was a bit nervous, overwhelmed, and in awe at not only the wealth of clinical information, but also the passion with which the council members engaged. That passion must have rubbed off since to this day, I still love echo and being involved at the national level as well as at the bedside. Since that time, the hair that has remained on my head has turned gray, and I have become more comfortable in my own skills, but the passion for echo has only grown. My career has been fairly fortunate insofar as working with, in my opinion, the greatest minds in the field, and I have moved into various research and management positions as well as teaching fellows/sonographers the art of echocardiography. My experience has led me to Hahnemann University, the institution that performed the first successful mitral valve commissurotomy, The University of Chicago Hospitals, an institution with 12 Nobel laureates in medicine and physiology, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where the Norwood and Rashkind procedures were developed. Along the way, I involved myself in three-dimensional echo, contrast echo, echo research, congenital echo, transesophageal echocardiography, veterinary echo, fetal echo. The challenges never stop even after many years. This is what makes echo so interesting to me. I intend to bring that passion to the council chair and with great help from our team, continue and extend the work of my predecessors.

Joining me in the sonography council leadership are two people who I admire very much; Carol Mitchell, PhD, RDCS, RVT, RT(R), FASE and Margaret (Koko) Park, BS, RVT, RDCS, FASE. Carol will be the council vice-chair and is an educator/researcher as well as a program director at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. I have had the pleasure of serving on several councils and committees with her and consider her a friend as well as a colleague. Carol has been active in ASE since 2003, serving on the Continuing Medical Education Committee, the Board of Directors, as the ASE representative to the Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, the ASE representative to Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, and as the chair of the Advanced Cardiovascular Sonographer Task Force. Carol is also the 2010 recipient of the ASE Cardiovascular Sonographer Distinguished Teacher Award.

Koko will be the council secretary and is currently a researcher and project coordinator at Cleveland Clinic as well as an adjunct faculty member at Lorain Community College. She has served the ASE in many roles as well, including the Board of Directors, the Council on Cardiovascular Sonography, the Council on Vascular Ultrasound, as sonographer representative to the ARDMS, the Nominations Committee, and the Ethics committee. Koko has also been highly involved with the local echo society in Cleveland and an Exam Development Task Force member for the ARDMS. She is also a person for whom I have great admiration after knowing her for many years and serving the ASE with her.

Moving forward, I extend my sincerest gratitude to Elizabeth for being a wonderful teacher, friend, colleague, leader, and resource. On behalf of ASE…thank you, Elizabeth! It was once said to me that you have been successful in your field if you have changed it for the better. I can confidently state that you have been successful.

Together, we have many challenges ahead as the healthcare landscape changes. Many things are changing or simply need continued focus: accreditation, the Affordable Care Act, advanced cardiac sonography, ergonomics, technology, hand-carried ultrasound, etc. Together we will face the challenges and represent you in a way to promote professionalism, career growth, safety, the list goes on and on. I look forward to the next two years and the challenges that the chair brings.

Patrick Coon, RCCS, RDCS, FASE is currently the technical director of CoreCardiology in Elkins Park, PA and is on staff at Virtua Voorhees in NJ.

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Apr 21, 2018 | Posted by in CARDIOLOGY | Comments Off on Passing the Torch of Leadership—The Bridge of Continued Excellence

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