August 2019 ASE Sonographer Volunteer of the Month: Kelly Thorson, ACS, RDCS (AE, PE, FE), RCCS, FASE

By Natalya Read posted 08-01-2019 08:02


When and how did you get involved with cardiovascular ultrasound? 
I became interested in cardiac ultrasound while going through undergraduate education in Utah. I spoke with a friend that had just completed the Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography program at Weber State University and I wanted to learn more. I investigated the program and thought that it was a high-quality program and I thought that it would be a great choice. I applied to the Weber State University program and was fortunate enough to be accepted. While in the program, I became very interested in congenital heart disease and I asked the medical director of echocardiography at Primary Children’s Hospital if they would be willing to have me do the final portion of my clinical internship at their institution. This experience ignited my passion for echocardiography in congenital heart disease and because of my experiences with the people there, I set my sights on a career in congenital echocardiography.  

What is the name and type of facility/institution at which you work, and what is your current position? 

My institution is Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital - Stanford.

My role is as Manager of Echocardiography Services.

My Credentials are:


My academic credentials are:

Masters Science of Radiologic Sciences

Bachelor of Science of Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography

When and how did you get involved with the ASE? 

Many of the leaders and mentors that I have encountered were very active with the ASE. Seeing these people extending their work beyond the institutional level seemed to be as important as the daily work that we do. The impact of their efforts could be seen in things such as guideline documents and advancements in echocardiography. I had seen their service as beneficial to their career, but also a way that they could help to impact the future of echocardiography.  

I expressed interest in volunteering with the ASE and in 2013, I was selected to be a member of the Information Technology Committee. Since my initial experience, I have strived to be involved with the ASE.

Why do you volunteer for ASE? 

I feel that the work that the ASE volunteers do is necessary for continued growth and refinement of echocardiography. This work is instrumental in driving the level of quality of echocardiography as an imaging technique and profession. It is really the work that the volunteers and staff member do that brings value and quality to the society. I have been very fortunate to have been able to meet some great people over the years and have some great collaborations and discussions as part of the volunteer activities. It seems like every activity that I am involved with throughout the volunteering process and meetings allows for personal learning experiences and growth. I am honored to have been able to be a part of this and I feel that the work that we do is both important and effective in the positive advancement of echocardiography.

What is your current role within ASE? In the past, on what other committees, councils or task forces have you served and what have you done with the local echo society? 

My current role with the ASE is as a member of the POCUS B Taskforce (I began in 2018); ASE Scientific Sessions Planning Committee for 2020; Industry Relations Committee member from 2017-2019. I have volunteered in the Telemedicine and New Technology Taskforce as a member from 2014-2015. The Information Technology Committee as a member from 2013-2014. 

In addition to the ASE, I have volunteered with other professional associations. I have volunteered with ARDMS for over a decade and I currently serve as the Vice-Chair of the Fetal Echocardiography Board Exam. I have volunteered with the Central California Sonographer Society as a guest speaker as well as being the Technology Coordinator from 2012-2014. I look forward to attending and hopefully volunteering with the newly formed Bay Area Pediatric Echo Society.

What is your advice for members who want to become more involved in their profession or with the ASE? 

Anyone who is interested should ask to be involved with the ASE. The annual request for volunteers is a good place to start, you can also work with those who are currently involved and see how you can become involved. Ask your colleagues about their experiences with volunteering and how to become involved. Find something that interests you and being with this, you never know where the service can you lead you in the profession.

 Involvement, as a volunteer, in the profession is a great way to learn and grow as a professional. The volunteer work gives us the ability to contribute and work towards positive advancement of our field. 

What is your vision for the future of cardiovascular sonography?

Technology and Usage

Expansion of the use of cardiac ultrasound will be exponential over the next decade, with its use and the use of ultrasound expanding into virtually every specialty. Just as the users on the point-of-care end will grow, the users within the echocardiography core and the advanced echocardiography technology end will have to grow. The advanced technology and functions within echocardiography will continue to grow as well.  With these advanced level skills in advanced imaging modalities such as 3D, strain, and vector flow mapping, this may lead to advanced imaging cardiac sonography specialists. Artificial intelligence will continue to be infused in the image acquisition, presentation, quantification, and decision-making realms of echocardiography. The gap between the Electronic Health Record and Echocardiography informatics will continue to narrow and this will require echocardiography imaging informatics specialists to help understand and manage the exchanges between these systems. 

Education in Cardiac Sonography in Congenital Heart Disease

The field of congenital cardiac sonography continues to expand. There is a need for more sonographer specialists in the growing population of adult congenital heart disease. In addition to the adult congenital cardiac sonographer, the need continues to be largely unmet in congenital pediatric, and fetal cardiac sonography. 

As echocardiography labs grow and the access to care expands to more and more rural regions the role for the cardiac sonography practitioner and other mid-level imaging professionals will become more and more prominent.

These needs will hopefully lead to the expansion of more academic training programs that offer advanced education in echocardiography. Ideally, this would include pathways for the ultrasound practitioner and pathways for the adult, pediatric, and fetal congenital cardiac sonographer.




09-15-2019 17:23

Congratulations Kelly.  I enjoyed reading your journey of Pediatric Sonography and Adult Congenital Echocardiography. Additionally, your journey of volunteering through the ASE and ARDMS is inspiring.  Would you be so kind as to answer some questions? 

08-21-2019 08:28

Congratulations Kelly!  I enjoyed reading Your post.