There is no doubt that this might be the biggest cliché, but it is, in fact, true. Volunteering for ASE really does give back to the echo community by bringing in new ideas, new perspectives, new blood, and new inspiration. It also brings minds from very different backgrounds into a single community to work towards a common goal. Please volunteer and help us attain those goals. Your colleagues may take your lead and also volunteer.
Having a voice in the future of echocardiography
What could be a better way to improve your work than by working with ASE to attain your goals? There are numerous committees and councils in ASE, and almost every one has a sonographer member and/or co-chair. Participating on committees and councils and lending your voice is a great way to shape the future of the field. Volunteer, and help decide the future of cardiac sonography on a range of issues. For example, ASE had a role in the new version of the Scope of Practice and Clinical Practice Standards for the Diagnostic Medical Sonographer ( asecho.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/copeofPracticeandClinicalStandards.pdf ).
Networking with world-class echocardiographers and developing good friends
It’s true…I have met some of my very best friends through ASE. These are people who understand what I do for a living and have also been there for me in good times and bad. It’s a big bonus they also happen to be the world’s foremost experts in the field of echocardiography. There have been numerous times I needed help with something, and I was able to send an email to someone who was an expert in the field or “niche” and had my answer that same day. Of course I could always look up the answer, but not every answer takes into account the nuances of each patient. The opportunity to network with these experts also leads me to….
Learn something new every time
One of the reasons I love echocardiography is not only the changing and evolving nature of the field, but also the fact I still learn something new almost every day. It might be something I don’t see in the clinical setting every day, but I know I have colleagues I can call and pick their brains. Here’s an example: You may work in a facility that does not perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement, but a new clinician has started who needs to have his/her patients evaluated. Fortunately, you met another sonographer through ASE who evaluates lots of patients for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Having that resource could prove invaluable.
Be a voice in Washington
Reimbursement, protection of patient access to care by opposing site neutrality and defending in-office ancillary service exemption, the Affordable Care Act….these are just some issues in Washington that impact cardiac sonography. ASE needs your help and your voice so we can help decide what is best for our profession and our patients. Volunteer and help us decide these issues.
Become a mentor or find a mentor
Everyone needs a mentor regardless of the stage of career one finds oneself. ASE is a great place to find one. And you could be a mentor as well. ASE is a great place to meet and share ideas with like-minded professionals who share your enthusiasm for cardiac sonography. It’s also a great place to meet sonographers from all over the country and from many different types of healthcare centers.
Participate in research and apply for grants
One of the most rewarding contributions a sonographer can make to the field is through research. However, two of the biggest challenges are funding and mentorship. Depending on donation levels for the ASE Foundation’s Annual Appeal, ASE routinely offers a sonographer research grant to a sonographer who acts as the primary investigator on his/her original research ( www.asecho.org/what-we-do/awards-and-scholarships/ ).
Promote personal and professional growth
Volunteering will not only make you grow professionally, but personally as well.
Conquer new challenges and gain new skills
Challenges are seen each and every day in echocardiography as our field advances. There are numerous issues ranging from education, humanitarianism, ergonomics, etc., and ASE is a great place to volunteer and help face those challenges. In addition, the ASE Foundation routinely leads teams of echocardiographers into humanitarian relief efforts. In 2014, the ASE Foundation traveled to India and provided echocardiography to patients who probably never would have had access to it ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALh99hYP_XA ).
Volunteering strengthens our profession
The ASE needs your help as the work is done almost entirely by volunteers except for the incredible work done by ASE staff. The profession of cardiac sonography and ASE need you to volunteer and help us shape the future of cardiac sonography. Please contact Mary Alice Dilday ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) for more information about volunteering.
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.