Sonographer of the Month: February
Eileen Nemec, RDCS, FASE
When and how did you get involved with cardiovascular ultrasound?
In 1983, I enlisted in the United States Air Force. The job selected for me, based on my pre- enlistment testing results, was that of a Cardiopulmonary Laboratory Specialist. This introduced me to the world of cardiovascular and pulmonary testing as well as respiratory therapy. Upon discharge from the Air Force in 1988, I pursued cardiac ultrasound as my career. About five years later I was given the opportunity to learn pediatric echocardiography through my employment at Mayo Clinic, and it’s been my love ever since.
What is the name and type of facility/institution in which you work, and what is your current position?
I am currently employed as a staff sonographer and accreditation liaison/quality assurance coordinator at a private practice cardiology group, the Children’s Heart Clinic in Minneapolis, MN.
When and how did you get involved with ASE?
I have been an ASE member since 1999. Once I became more active in the educational process of echocardiography through ASE lecturing opportunities, I finally understood the importance of also being active at both the local and national level with ultrasound societies. The ability to share knowledge and troubleshoot with others in the field of sonography is important. Physicians who also understand the importance of sonographer education has helped me stay actively involved in both arenas. I’ve developed many relationships with other ASE members over the years and really value those how those professional and personal relationships have impacted me.
What is your current role within ASE? In the past, have you been part of other committees, councils or taskforces?
Presently, I am on the 2013 Scientific Sessions planning committee. In the past I’ve worked on the ASE Guidelines and Standards Committee and Exam Development Task Forces with the ARDMS. I am also a board member of our local ultrasound society the Minnesota Society of Diagnostic Ultrasound (MSDU) and act as co-chair of the 2013 Cardiac Track Planning Committee for their annual ultrasound meeting.
Why do you volunteer for ASE?
I volunteer with ASE for the educational benefit, development of professional relationships, and because of the importance of sonographers having a voice on the national level in the career that they choose for themselves.
What is your advice to members that want to be more involved in their profession or with ASE?
Personal initiative is key here, so I would suggest they start on the local level. If you have a local ultrasound society, it’s a great way to network with other ultrasound professionals and build life-long relationships with them. There is always an opportunity to play a small part in your local society by volunteering to help with planning meetings, stuffing bags, and building your region’s understanding of the importance of sonographer education. Once you have your feet wet on the local level, attending an ASE-sponsored event like the Scientific Sessions could be next. It was my experience that once I was introduced to the high level of cardiovascular ultrasound professionals who speak at these meetings and the amount of time that goes into planning this type of meeting, I knew that I wanted to be part of the bigger picture that is the ASE. Membership alone makes you an important part of sustaining the society but once you become an “active member” it gives you have a much bigger stake in the success of the enterprise.
What is your vision the future of cardiovascular sonography?
As a sonographer who has been in the field for 28 years, I’ve seen lots of change. With cost reduction in healthcare, education seems to have become less important to the employer and this is one thing I would like to see change for the future. The future of echocardiography seems bright if sonographers take their professional development seriously and stress the importance of employer/physician-supported education in both the workplace and on the national level. I don’t feel that sonographers can obtain the most state-of-the-art information through education provided only within the workplace or free CME online. It is necessary for sonographers to engage in multi-level education provided through attending national meetings. There is invaluable professional networking that only takes place on this level, and sonographers should be exposed to this at some time to aid in their professional development.
Secondly, I envision all workplace-related repetitive injuries for sonographers would be eliminated entirely. This may seem like a lofty goal but not impossible in my mind. Miniaturization of equipment and transducer design is a great way to address some of this. Obviously there still needs to be some work done here and I hold out hope that my wish can come true.