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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 40-43

My experience – American society of echocardiography 2018

Senior Sonographer, Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication15-Mar-2019

Correspondence Address:
Sangeeta C Porwal
Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jiae.jiae_41_18

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How to cite this article:
Porwal SC. My experience – American society of echocardiography 2018. J Indian Acad Echocardiogr Cardiovasc Imaging 2019;3:40-3

How to cite this URL:
Porwal SC. My experience – American society of echocardiography 2018. J Indian Acad Echocardiogr Cardiovasc Imaging [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Nov 26];3:40-3. Available from: https://www.jiaecho.org/text.asp?2019/3/1/40/254258

  The Grant Top

As I heard my name being called out as the first recipient of the Bharat and Varsha Patel Sonographer Travel Grant during Echo India in Jaipur, I felt a rush of excitement that I had never experienced before. This was soon replaced by a stronger wave of emotion, best described as steely resolve – both to learn as much as I could during my visit and to ensure that my experience may bring benefit to the fast-growing Indian sonographer community on my return.

The Bharat and Varsha Patel Sonographer Travel Grant was introduced by the Indian Academy of Echocardiography (IAE) in 2017 to support one Indian sonographer to attend the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) Scientific Sessions. I was selected for the ASE meeting, 2018 at Nashville, Tennessee, held from June 22nd to 26th - a dream come true for all those who wish to experience echo learning and science on an international stage. The grant was made possible owing to the generous contribution of senior ASE sonographer, Bharat Patel, Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), RDMS, RVS, FASE and his wife, Varsha, and covers all expenses related to attending this international meeting. This includes international airfare and domestic travel within the USA, conference registration, and hotel accommodation during the meeting.

  American Society of Echocardiography Top

The ASE society comprises over 17,000 clinicians, researchers, sonographers, and allied health professionals committed to excellence in echocardiography. The ASE Scientific Sessions represent their largest meeting, conducted annually across the USA. This year, the meeting was conducted in Nashville, well known as the seat of country music and in keeping with this context, was themed “See the Sound, Hear the Science.” Over 2600 attendees from 45 countries attended the event, making it a veritable celebration of the latest in echocardiographic research around the world.

  Sessions Top

I stepped into the echo meeting expecting to be among the few sonographers attending the event but was pleasantly surprised to find a significant representation made by sonographers, not merely as delegates but also as faculty, including speakers, researchers, and chairs. According to a 2017 ASE survey, more than one in three participants (33%) attending the Scientific Sessions is a sonographer, making this the largest gathering of sonographers in the world.

During the inaugural ceremony, sonographers were recognized for their contribution to education through Lifetime Achievement Awards, Distinguished Teacher Awards, and as Fellows of the ASE for their leadership initiatives. In addition, I was also pleasantly surprised to see Bharat Patel receive an award for his significant contribution to the ASE Foundation for the 4th year in a row. Clearly, sonographers had worked hard to establish their competencies and contribution on the ASE stage, and this is huge inspiration for us in India during our early years of organization. Who knows where we can be in a few years if we remain sincere and committed to the field?

  The Talks Top

The Scientific Sessions comprised 5 days of intense science showcased through oral presentations in multiple halls, along with sessions on adapting guidelines into practice, echo lab operations, and innovative use of cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning in echocardiography. Symposia covered a wide variety of topics, including cardio-oncology, multimodality imaging, and structural heart disease. Luminaries gave keynote addresses during important sessions in the meeting.

Dr. Allan Klein, the past president of the ASE, gave an informative talk on his experiences as a “Pericardiologist” – or cardiologist focused on the pericardium – during the 29th Annual Edler Lecture. Dr. Mark K. Friedberg delivered the 19th Annual Feigenbaum Lecture, focusing on echocardiographic insights into the stressed right ventricle, a topic that is often sidetracked in the setting of more dominant left ventricular pathologies. In addition to these talks, other sessions such as “Lessons from the Legends,” “Stress Echo with the Experts,” and “Simulated Heart Team Sessions” provided expert advice from renowned authorities in echocardiography.

  Sonographers Top

Being a sonographer myself, I was keen to gain insight into the sonographer activities at the ASE meeting. During all the days of the conference, a dedicated hall was provided to sonographers, with sessions that emphasized practical aspects of performing echocardiography. Called as “Echo Essentials,” these sessions were conducted predominantly by sonographers and covered both educational tracks in clinical echocardiography, in addition to aspects concerning laboratory management and career development. These talks were pedagogic and instructional, with practical tips and tricks shared by sonographer educators. Sonographers and physicians shared the dais as chairs, introducing speakers and providing comments at the end of the sessions. The camaraderie that they shared was admirable, with sonographers providing technical insight and clinicians supplementing this with clinical experience.

  Abstracts Top

A total of 472 scientific abstracts showcasing original research were accepted during this year's ASE meeting, the highest number accepted in the last many years. Sonographer researchers were also celebrated in good measure. In addition to the Young Investigator Award, a separate Brian Haluska Sonographer Research Award was conducted to promote nonphysicians who served as primary investigators on their project. This year, the recipient of the sonographer investigator award demonstrated the feasibility to use contrast to improve assessment of right ventricular size and function. It was inspiring to see sonographers take on so many roles!

  Other Sessions Top

With all this scientific activity, one might expect this meeting to become a bit heavy and difficult to keep up with, but there was never a dull moment. There were a variety of presentation styles, from informal chalk talks using a classroom environment, interactive learning labs where one could see live demonstrations, to innovative competitions.

I must make a special mention of two interesting formats that I found both educational and inspiring. The first is the “Echovation challenge,” a technology-themed competition, where teams from around the world showcased their inventions and innovations and were critiqued by a panel of experts in a style reminiscent of a popular TV reality show. This year, the award was won by a team comprising members from New York and Israel who demonstrated a deep learning algorithm to bridge the gap between ultrasound experts and nonexpert users.

The second competition was quiz called “Echo Jeopardy,” where 3 teams demonstrated their knowledge in echocardiography wearing cowboy hats, in keeping with the “country” feel of Nashville! Quite clearly, echo experts take their knowledge seriously, but not themselves! As on most other stages, even in these two competitions, I noticed a significant sonographer participation.

  Exhibit Hall Top

The ASE Scientific Sessions' experience would not be complete without a visit to the exhibit hall, where over 60 companies displayed the latest technology available or soon to be released. Here, one could put on a set of virtual reality glasses and take a tour around the heart, print out a custom-designed mitral valve through three-dimensional printing, see the latest echo machines displayed by all major companies, get information on how to acquire the Registered Cardiac Sonographer or RDCS credential, or buy a set of the latest ASE guidelines in echocardiography.

  Memories Top

During the meeting, I also had the good fortune to introduce myself to both national and international luminaries in echocardiography whom I never dreamt that I would actually meet one day. These include figures such as past and present presidents of the ASE, senior leaders of the IAE, and living legends such as Dr. Harvey Feigenbaum and Dr. Navin Nanda.

But what I hold on to most is my interaction with senior ASE sonographers. Despite having such wide experience and recognition, they were easy to approach and speak to and genuinely interested in the growth of the sonographer community in India. I left the meeting, deeply inspired by my interactions and grateful both to Bharat Patel and the IAE for making this possible. My trip has left me wondering how I can contribute to the growth of our community in India. We are a relatively young group now, but with support from the IAE, and our individual drive for greater knowledge and competency, we may be able to script another sonographer success story in the coming decade.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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