November 2019 ASE Sonographer Volunteer of the Month: Inga Vaitenas, ACS, RCS, RCCS, FASE

By Natalya Read posted 9 days ago


Inga_Vaitenas_Pic.jpgWhen and how did you get involved with cardiovascular ultrasound? 

I graduated from Vilnius Medical school in Lithuania with a nursing degree in 1992. I worked as a nurse for almost 6 years.  I loved working in the healthcare field and most importantly helping patients. However, when I immigrated to the United States in 1998 my nursing degree was not accepted here so I decided that it was a good time to make a change in my career. I always found cardiac ultrasound to be extremely fascinating so I quickly enrolled in school for the cardiac technology program.

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

I started my career working in a small private practice but soon realized that I wanted to expand my knowledge. Northwestern Memorial Hospital was the perfect fit for me.  It is an academic institution which has allowed me to grow and learn so much throughout my career.  I’ve been working at NMH for the past 11 years.  With the encouragement of fellow sonographers and physicians, I have obtained my RCCS and ACS credentials. I am a lead sonographer and have many responsibilities, such as education, new technology, training, and research.  I love echocardiography and new technology. I have worked on various research studies that involve strain and 3D imaging and thoroughly enjoy performing the analysis on a variety of patients.

When and how did you get involved with the ASE?

I was encouraged by my Medical Director Dr.Vera Rigolin to get involved with ASE and become a FASE. I have been very fortunate to work with incredible physicians who always encourage continuing education and growth. I became an ASE member in 2012 and a FASE in 2017.  I currently work with two ASE past Presidents, Dr. Vera Rigolin and Dr. James Thomas. They continually update our program with new ideas, protocols and always encourage sonographer involvement.

Why do you volunteer for ASE?

Echo is my passion!  I volunteer for ASE because it is such a wonderful organization. I feel that I’m able to give back to the community from an organization which I’ve learned so much.  Being part of a greater community is satisfying on a variety of levels.  I bring back ideas and shared experiences to other sonographers in the field. 



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?  

I had the opportunity to present at the ASE Learning Lab and the Scientific Sessions.  I love involving myself on task forces and councils.  In the Learning Labs, I enjoy sharing my knowledge of strain and 3D with peers, fellows and physicians.

On a local level I have been presenting at the ASE- Echo Northwestern conference for the past 10 years.  Echo Northwestern is affiliated with ASE and is the longest running echo course in the US…41 years and going strong!   The physicians and sonographers present highly interactive teachings on the basics and advanced echo topics.

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

Attend meetings! Involvement with ASE is a great way to expand your professional network and learn about the newest developments in the field of echocardiography. Never stop learning, make use of the resources within your institution, learn from the physicians and sonographers, and go to your local conferences. 

What is your vision for the future of cardiovascular sonography?  

I think the echocardiography field is extremely interesting and fast-growing. I hope in the future more echo labs will adapt to new technology.  As I promote the incorporation of strain and 3D imaging into everyday scanning with my fellow sonographers, I see the field changing rapidly.  Semi-automated software and better probes have made incorporation easier and more reproducible.  I believe more automation and artificial intelligence will lead to better reproducibility of myocardial strain imaging and 3D volumes.  What is considered advanced imaging now may be considered routine in the future.  

Sonographers will be an integral part of the future of echocardiography.  Advanced cardiac sonographers like myself will help standardize and oversee scanning to assure that the physicians will have the best information, images and interpretation to efficiently make their reports.  The collaboration between sonographer and physician seems unique and synergistic to this cardiac sonography field.