Why I Love Credentials

My name is Mike. I am many things, including a veteran, a business man, a coach, and a sonographer. And while the “things” I am change over time, one thing has remained the same: I am a student! This is thompsonmost evidenced by the 8 professional credentials I currently hold.

I have found that after being in the field of ultrasound for more than 2 decades, credentialing and continuing education can distinguish the enthusiastic sonographer from the merely competent one. With the introduction of more focused credentials such as musculoskeletal, breast, pediatric, phlebology, and advanced cardiac subspecialties, sonographers can now stand out from the crowd in terms of awareness and competency while at the same time being on the cutting-edge of the latest techniques and literature.

Acquiring a new credential, or even just studying for the registry examination, requires you to learn valuable new knowledge that may impact the way you treat and diagnose patients. For example, while I was preparing for the RPhS registry, multiple sources recommended a pneumatic compression device to augment venous flow while a patient is standing as an alternative to the patient performing the Valsalva maneuver in order to induce and record venous reflux. For me, this method has helped me better evaluate for this condition with less strain on the patient while eliminating communication barriers that may exist. If I hadn’t been preparing for that exam, I probably would never have learned this technique.

While some credentials are necessary for certain jobs, multiple credentials prove to existing and future employers that you take your profession seriously and you don’t settle for the minimum standard. I am not saying you need to get multiple credentials. If your professional interest does not reach beyond one credential, that is fine, but few ultrasound labs today only perform only one specialty. Echocardiography labs and vascular labs are growing together as cardiovascular labs, and many departments are requiring a more comprehensive knowledge in ultrasound. Credentialing yourself to the highest degree may get you the new job you pursue or secure the one you have. While increased pay is always a motive, sometimes the satisfaction of being able to set yourself apart from others in the field can be just as rewarding.

Some sonographers have the position that if the credential doesn’t come with a pay raise, it’s not worth it. With reimbursement cuts and higher credentialing standards being proposed by private and government payors, my opinion is that keeping your job is a pay raise.

Why do you hold the credentials you have? What are your go-to resources? What book would you like to see written? Share your thoughts and ideas here and on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Mike Thompson, MPH, RDMS, RDCS, RVT, RPhS, RVS, RCS, RCCS, is Owner of Diagnostic Resources in Perry, Georgia.

 

Obsessed With Ultrasound

1. Tell us how and why you became interested in ultrasound?
During my Emergency Medicine at Mayo Clinic, I gained exposure to point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) for procedural guidance. I was immediately drawn to the hands-on and technical aspects of using ultrasound, and began advancing my use for diagnostic shihpurposes. After a few cases of diagnosing acute pathology at the bedside (AAA, free fluid, and DVT to name a few), I was hooked! Following residency, I decided to expand my ultrasound training and pursued an Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship at Yale, while also working toward obtaining my Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) certification. Ever since I’ve adopted a liberal use of POCUS in my clinical practice, I can say without a doubt that it’s made me a better Emergency Physician, and I can’t imagine practicing without it!

2. Talk about your role as Program Director of the Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship Program at The Scarborough Hospital in Toronto.
I’m thrilled to be able to bring the skills that I’ve learned during my own EUS Fellowship training to the Emergency Medicine community in Toronto! Our team built the Fellowship Program from the ground up, and our Department went all in with the purchase of 4 additional new ultrasound machines and QPath software for archiving. I’m truly proud of what we’ve accomplished. It certainly helps that I have an extremely supportive Department Chair and 2 amazing fellows this year!

3. What prompted the writing of your book Ultrasound for the Win!?
When trying to learn more about ultrasound myself during residency, I found that there was a void in high-yield POCUS books geared toward Emergency Physicians. I found that the few textbooks that were available, while informative, could be quite dense and intimidating to read. So I decided to develop a book that I, myself, and I believe most Emergency Physicians, would appreciate — a case-based interactive and easy-to-read format that’s clinically relevant to our daily practice. It’s a book that a medical student or resident interested in POCUS can easily read and reference during an Emergency Medicine rotation.

4. What’s one thing you learned about yourself through the writing/editing process?
It’s made me realize just how obsessed I am with ultrasound! Writing and putting together the book was hard work, but also enjoyable and extremely satisfying! Seeing these real cases compiled one after another really highlights the potentially life-saving role of POCUS in medicine, and the profound difference it can make in improving patient care and outcomes.

5. What advice would you offer medical students when it comes to ultrasound?
Scan many and scan often—it’s simple; the more you practice POCUS, the better you will be at it! Also, don’t be afraid to take initiative in your own education—while some attendings may not be comfortable enough with POCUS to teach it to you, don’t let that be a deterrent to your own learning. There’s a plethora of resources available online, including Matt & Mike’s Ultrasound Podcast and Academic Life in Emergency Medicine that you can reference!

How did you become interested in ultrasound? What are your go-to resources? What book would you like to see written? Share your thoughts and ideas here and on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Jeffrey Shih, MD, RDMS, is an Emergency Physician and author of the book Ultrasound for the Win! Emergency Medicine Cases. He is Program Director of the Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship Program at The Scarborough Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He can be reached at jeffrey.shih@utoronto.ca and on Twitter: @jshihmd

Research in Ultrasound: Why We Do It

“Medicine, the only profession that labors incessantly to destroy the reason for its existence.” –James Bryce

We all know the important medical discoveries clinical research has given us over time. stamatia-v-destounis-md-facrYou could even make the case that the high standards of care we have today are built on centuries of research.

The world of medical ultrasound is no stranger to clinical research—dating back to the early work of transmission ultrasound of the brain. This work was especially important, as it was the first ultrasonic echo imaging of the human body.

Since then, research has brought about gray scale imaging, better transducer design, better understanding of beam characteristics, tissue harmonics and spatial compounding, and the development of Doppler. All of these research developments, as well as many others, were highly significant and have lead us to today’s high-quality handheld, real-time ultrasound imaging.

For me, the biggest and most important developments were and have been in breast ultrasound. In 1951, the research of Wild and Neal discovered and qualified the acoustic characteristics of benign and malignant breast tumors through use of an elementary high-frequency (15-MHz) system that produced an A-mode sonogram. These researchers published the results of additional ultrasound examinations in 21 breast tumors: 9 benign and 12 malignant, with two of the cases becoming the first 2-dimensional echograms (B-mode sonograms) of breast tissue ever published.

It is research that leads to landmark publications that change the way we practice. The ACRIN 6666 trial led by Dr Wendie Berg and her co-authors evaluated women at elevated risk of breast cancer with screening mammography compared with combined screening mammography and ultrasound. This pivotal study demonstrated that adding a single screening ultrasound to mammography can increase cancer detection in high-risk women. In our current environment this is even more relevant, as breast density notification legislation is being adopted in states across the country. With the legislation, patients with dense breast tissue are often being referred for additional screening services, with ultrasound most often being the screening modality of choice.

Screening ultrasound is an area on which I have focused much of my own research. I practice in New York State, where our breast density notification legislation became effective in January 2013. I have been interested in reviewing my practice’s experience with screening ultrasound in these patients to evaluate cancer detection and biopsy rates. My initial experience was published in the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine in 2015, and supported what other breast screening ultrasound studies have found, an additional cancer detection rate of around 2 per 1000. Through my continued evaluation of our screening breast ultrasound program, I have found a persistently higher cancer detection rate by adding breast ultrasound to the screening mammogram–which is of great importance to all breast imagers, as we are finding cancers that were occult on mammography.

Participating in valuable research is important to me and my colleagues because part of our breast center’s mission is to investigate new technologies and stay on the cutting-edge by offering the latest and greatest to our patients. Participating in clinical research provides us important experience with new technology, and an opportunity to evaluate firsthand new techniques, new equipment, and new ideas and determine what will most benefit our patients. This is what I find the most important aspect of research, and why I do it; to be able to find new technologies that improve upon the old, to continue to find breast cancers as early as possible, and to improve patient outcomes.

Why is medical research/ultrasound research so important to you? What research questions would you like to see answered? Share your thoughts and ideas here and on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Stamatia Destounis, MD, FACR, is an attending radiologist and managing partner at Elizabeth Wende Breast Clinic. She is also Clinical Professor of Imaging Sciences at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome

In a study funded in part by AIUM’s Endowment for Education and Research, Jon Jacobson, MD, and his team from the University of Michigan set out to determine the effectiveness of percutaneous tendon eer_logo_textsidefor treatment of gluteal tendinosis. The full results of this study were recently published in the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.

Greater trochanteric pain syndrome is a condition that most commonly affects middle-aged and elderly women but can also affect younger, and more active, individuals. It has been shown that the underlying etiology for greater trochanteric pain syndrome is most commonly tendinosis or a tendon tear of the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, or both at the greater trochanter and that tendon inflammation (or tendinitis) is not a major feature. This condition can be quite debilitating and often does not respond to conservative management.

Treatment of greater trochanteric pain syndrome should therefore include treatment of the underlying tendon condition. Ultrasound-guided percutaneous needle fenestration (or tenotomy) has been used to effectively treat underlying tendinosis and tendon tears, including tendons about the hip and pelvis. Similarly, autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP), often combined with tendon fenestration, has been used throughout the body to treat tendinosis and tendon tears.

Although studies have shown patient improvement with PRP treatment, the true effectiveness of this treatment compared to other treatments remains uncertain. Although percutaneous ultrasound-guided tendon fenestration has been shown to be effective about the hip and pelvis, there are no data describing the use of PRP for treatment of gluteal tendons, and there is no study comparing the effectiveness of each treatment for gluteal tendinopathy. The purpose of this blinded prospective clinical trial was to compare ultrasound-guided tendon fenestration and PRP for treatment of gluteus tendinosis or partial-thickness tears in greater trochanteric pain syndrome.

We designed a study in which patients with symptoms of greater trochanteric pain syndrome and ultrasound findings of gluteal tendinosis or a partial tear (<50% depth) were blinded and treated with ultrasound-guided fenestration or autologous PRP injection of the abnormal tendon. Pain scores were recorded at baseline, week 1, and week 2 after treatment. Retrospective clinic record review assessed patient symptoms.

To break this down a little further, the study group consisted of 30 patients (24 female), of whom 50% were treated with fenestration and 50% were treated with PRP. The gluteus medius was treated in 73% and 67% in the fenestration and PRP groups, respectively. Tendinosis was present in all patients. In the fenestration group, mean pain scores were 32.4 at baseline, 16.8 at time point 1, and 15.2 at time point 2. In the PRP group, mean pain scores were 31.4 at baseline, 25.5 at time point 1, and 19.4 at time point 2. Retrospective follow-up showed significant pain score improvement from baseline to time points 1 and 2 (P < .0001) but no difference between treatment groups (P = .1623). There was 71% and 79% improvement at 92 days (mean) in the fenestration and PRP groups, respectively, with no significant difference between the treatments (P >.99).

These results led us to conclude that both ultrasound-guided tendon fenestration and PRP injection are effective for treatment of gluteal tendinosis, showing symptom improvement in both treatment groups.

What is your experience with treating greater trochanteric pain syndrome? Are you familiar with the Endowment for Education and Research?  Share your thoughts and ideas here and on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Jon A. Jacobson, MD, is Professor of Radiology, Director of the Division of Musculoskeletal Radiology, Assistant Medical Director of Northville Health Center, and Medical Director of Taubman Radiology within the University of Michigan Health System.

Who Runs the AIUM?

Have you ever wondered what or who runs the AIUM? Of course you know about the elected officers, and the AIUM staff that works in the home office, but do you know that there are approximately a dozen committees and/or task forces that help the organization run throughout the year?

The volunteers may be elected or appointed to the committees and tasks forces, and they are not paid or compensated for their time. Frequently, there are many committee members who accept appointments and nominations year after year. Who would possibly be willing to take on extra work and added expense, just to help the AIUM?

Bagley_6Who are the volunteers?
Ordinary people like me! That is who! I have been volunteering with the AIUM since 2009, and have found, as they often say when you volunteer, that I get more than I give. My personal life mission is one of giving back, both to my profession and to my community. I believe anyone who volunteers for the AIUM will give you a similar answer: There is an obligation to give back because someone once gave of his or her time to help me.

How did I become a volunteer?
I did not wake up one day and think to myself, “Today is the day I should volunteer for the AIUM.” Instead, a mentor suggested to a liaison organization that I should be their representative to the AIUM Bioeffects and Safety Committee. At the first meeting, I was hooked. The work gave me new energy and excitement about my profession. I could not get enough bioeffect and safety knowledge.

When my time as a liaison ended, I asked a fellow committee member to nominate me to the committee. As luck would have it, my work proved that I was serious, and the members elected me to the committee.

How can you become a volunteer?
Maybe you are thinking to yourself right now, I am energetic and have a lot to give, but I do not know how to get involved. What should I do? If you have a mentor in the AIUM, ask him or her to nominate you to a committee.

If you do not have a mentor I suggest that you start by serving as a resource member to the committee that best matches your skills and interests. A resource member might assist the members on projects. You can offer up your talents by contacting the chair and letting him or her know that you want to help. Once your work is visible, you can ask a member to nominate you to be a committee member.

You Get More Than You Give
I have gained so much from working on a committee. I have new knowledge about bioeffects and safety that has allowed me to take on a larger advocacy role. I have new knowledge to integrate into the courses that I teach, and I have developed lectures to educate all medical imaging professionals about ultrasound bioeffects and safety. The work on the committee has inspired my own research projects that have resulted in award-winning manuscripts.

My confidence in my knowledge has improved, and I am willing to try new and difficult projects that I would not have dreamed of trying in my pre-committee life. I have made friends and have gained new mentors. I know that regardless of how much effort I have given, the committee has given me exponentially more.

Member, Pay it Forward!
None of us ever gets where we are on our own. In addition to our hard work, our mentors and our colleagues help us on our professional journeys. Volunteering is a way to pay it forward.

If you are an active volunteer, now is the time to make sure your good work is continued! Mentor a new member, and help him or her get involved. Suggest that he or she become a resource member or nominate him or her to a committee. Bringing new people into the volunteer world ensures that your good work continues, and it provides for the AIUM’s future.

Interested in volunteering for the AIUM? Check out the volunteer page. What has been your volunteer experience? Comment below or let us know on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Jennifer Bagley, MPH, RDMS, RVT, is an associate professor for the College of Allied Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Schusterman Campus in Tulsa. She currently serves on the AIUM Bioeffects Committee and is a former member of the Technical Standards Committee.

My Chilean Experience

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Chile to present at the 18th Congress of Medical Technology meeting in Santiago. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget! The total travel time was about 14 hours, which began in Orlando with a flight delay and an emergency change to an earlier flight that had one seat left and was just about to
close its doors!Chile

Sonographers, as well as other allied health professionals, begin their education in the Colegio de Tecnologos Medicos (College of Medical Technologies); and the Capitulo de Ecografia (Sonography Chapter) is an arm of the College.  It is estimated that there are about 300 sonographers in the country of Chile. I was invited to speak at the meeting of the congress and the preconference, which was the inaugural meeting of the Sonography Chapter.

The evening before the preconference, I was invited to meet with a group of sonographers at a reception to discuss professional issues, certification, and education. The reception was hosted by the President of the College of Medical Technologies, Veronica Rosales, and the President of the Sonography Chapter and AIUM member, Mario Gonzalez Quiroz. At the reception, I was introduced to Fernando Lopez, known as the first sonographer in Chile with about 30 years of experience. I found the sonographers of Chile to be very welcoming and gracious, as well as curious about the role of sonographers in the U.S. They are also eager for educational opportunities to expand their knowledge and expertise.

I gave a total of 6 lectures during the 2 meetings on a variety of topics, including point-of-care, acute abdomen, obstetrical pathology, and pediatric sonography. Oh…did I mention that I don’t speak Spanish? I had synchronous translation of my lectures, and then I was able to enjoy other lectures that were then translated into English for me. As I was developing my lectures, I learned that with asynchronous translation, presentations should be shorter and you need to speak slowly. For me, that meant I had to reduce my typical image-heavy 100-120 slide presentation down to 70-80 slides. Luckily that worked within the time I was given.

This was my first time having lectures translated, my first international lectures, and my first time in Chile (actually my first time in South America)…lots of firsts! It was a true honor to present at this meeting and to meet the sonographers of Chile. I feel like I have made lifelong friendships, expanded my professional family, and experienced the beauty of a new country.

Have you given talks to an international audience? What was your experience? How can U.S.-based physicians and sonographers support their counterparts in other countries? Share your thoughts and ideas here and on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Charlotte Henningsen, MS, RT(R), RDMS, RVT, is the Chair & Professor of the Sonography Department at Adventist University of Health Sciences and the Director of the Center for Advanced Ultrasound Education. She currently serves as the AIUM 2nd Vice President.

Credentialing, Licensure, Certification, Accreditation: What’s the Difference?

Within the medical arena it seems like the terms credential, license, certification, and accreditation are used frequently and interchangeably. As an accrediting body, the AIUM wanted some help in showing and explaining how these terms differ. Luckily credentialing expert Mickie Rops, CAE, agreed to help out. In this post, she explains the differences.aium_accred

  1. Credentialing: Process by which an agent qualified to do so grants formal recognition to and records such status of entities (individuals, organizations, processes, services, or products) meeting pre-determined and standardized criteria. Credentialing is the umbrella term for all the types of programs like the ones that follow.
  2. Licensure: Mandatory process by which a governmental agency grants time-limited permission to an individual to engage in a given occupation after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria. Licenses are typically granted at the state level and have ongoing maintenance requirements. Associations do not grant professional licensure.
  3. Professional Certification: Voluntary process by which a nongovernmental entity grants a time-limited recognition to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria. Historically association-based programs, many companies (Microsoft, for example) now offer and manage certification programs. Professional certification also has ongoing maintenance requirements.
  4. Accreditation: Voluntary process by which a nongovernmental entity grants a time-limited recognition to an organization after verifying that it has met predetermined and standardized criteria. The focus of accreditation’s assessment is on safe and effective processes and outcomes. Accreditation usually has ongoing maintenance requirements.
  5. Certificates: A training program, class, or session on a focused topic for which participants receive a certificate after completion of the coursework and successful demonstration of attaining the course learning objectives. While certificates may be dated, once they are awarded, they are awarded. There are no ongoing maintenance requirements.

The AIUM is an accrediting body, which means it recognizes practices, not individuals, that meet its published parameters. These parameters are focused on safe and effective processes and outcomes. The AIUM also issues certificates for those who earn CME credits by attending an event, taking a test, or participating in a webinar. These certificates, however, must be submitted to the entity that issues the appropriate licensee, certification, or accreditation.

Do these terms confuse you? What tricks do you use to keep them straight? Have an questions about AIUM Accreditation?  Comment below or let us know on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Mickie S. Rops, CAE, is a credentialing expert who helps organizations make the right credentialing decisions. She can be reached at www.msrops.com or mickie@msrops.com.