Ultrasound: Trends and the Role of Continuing Medical Education

Advancements in Ultrasound Require CME

Continuning Medical Education plays a vital role in addressing trending technology, workload demand, ergonomics, and subspecialty certification in the practice of ultrasound for sonographers and physicians.

Ultrasound technology is a dynamic field, constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of the healthcare industry. This article will discuss some of the most significant trends in ultrasound, including ultrasound education, ergonomics, and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs). We'll also highlight how the Institute for Advanced Medical Education (IAME) is addressing these issues through its continuing medical education (CME) courses.

Technological Advancements in Ultrasound

The ultrasound market is experiencing rapid growth due to development of affordable POCUS machines and assisted ultrasound technologies (such as AI and imaging aids like needle or nerve highlighting technology from ultrasound manufacturers). These advancements pose challenges for sonographers, who must constantly adapt and learn new technologies. For example, what is the role of microvascular imaging in tumors, inflamation, and vascular disease? While evidence based medical research continues to attempt to address questions like this, IAME.com continues to bring the newest education to sonographers and physicians to stay at the top of the field. The introduction of new ultrasound machines with advanced imaging capabilities has revolutionized the way sonographers work, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and improved patient care.

Increasing Demand and Workload

The healthcare industry needs more trained professionals to keep pace with patients' needs compounded with the expansion of ultrasound as a diagnostic tool. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that U.S. hospitals and health systems will need an additional 27,600 sonographers by 2024. The most common age group was 55–64 (36.7%). This means that in the next 10 years clost to 40% of the sonographer work force is retiring. Combine this fact with the additional need of over 14,200 new sonographer jobs over the next 10 years and you will see the that supply is not meeting demand. This has led to a growing demand for new sonographers as well as keeping experienced sonographers up to date through quick and efficient continuing medical education.

Ergonomics and Sonographer Health

Newer ultrasound systems are designed to be more ergonomically friendly. Many include electric lift functions that allow ultrasound sonographers to configure the height and orientation of the machine to their personal preferences. This is a crucial development in the field, as it can help reduce the risk of WRMDs, which are a significant concern for sonographers. Additionally there has been a focus of leading ultrasound organizations in the United States to promote mandatory ergonomics training for sonographers and their leadership. Preventing WRDMD's starts with the sonographer applying appropriate principles of ergonomics and being supported by organizational leadership to implenment these practices to prevent injury. By improving the ergonomics of ultrasound machines, workspaces, and workflow as well as training the sonogarpher and their leadership in ergonomics first principles, sonographers can deliver quality care without risking their own health.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI maybe the the hottest topic in any field in the news. AI is being applied to existing technology to sonographers gain the confidence they need by accelerating training through feedback. Companies are also releasing AI assited features on ultrasound machines that assist sonographers in attaining excellence in image aqusiiton by ensuring best measurements or highlighting specific anatomy. We all know it can be challenging to follow a nerve or mass using panoramic or even with cine through vayring depths of anatomy. This is a significant trend in ultrasound practice, as it can help ensure that sonographers are well-prepared to provide the best possible care to patients. AI can analyze ultrasound images in real-time, providing immediate feedback to sonographers and helping them improve their skills. This not only improves the quality of care provided to patients but also helps sonographers develop their skills more quickly, allowing them to meet the growing demand for their services. While there is limited application of AI in clinical practice today, AI will become a force in sonography soon and IAME will be there to help education the workforce in its clinical application and improving patient outcomes.

Cardiovascular Ultrasound Trends

The American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) provides a summary of findings on current echo trends, practices, challenges, and new and emerging technologies and applications. These trends are shaping the future of cardiovascular ultrasound, and it's crucial for sonographers to stay up-to-date with them. Other organizations such as the Cardiovascular Credientialing International, https://cci-online.org/, and the International Accreditation Commission (IAC) promote the importance of CME for sonographers and physicians by establishing minimum requirements for working in accredited labs that are in addition or supplemnetal to the already required CME for ARDMS. The ASE's findings highlight the importance of continuing education for sonographers, as new technologies and techniques are constantly being developed. IAME works to address the education of members for developments in cardiovascular ultrasound imaging by adding courses on a monthly basis that may include narrative courses, videos, webinars and more.

The Role of the Institute for Advanced Medical Education

The IAME is tackling these topics through its CME courses, which are included in our annual, lifetime, or 12-year sonographer memberships. These courses are designed to help sonographers stay current with the latest trends and technologies in the field, ensuring that they can provide the best possible care to their patients.

By offering a range of CME courses, the IAME is helping to address the increasing demand for trained sonographers, providing them with the education they need to adapt to new technologies and trends. The IAME's focus on ergonomics and sonographer health is also helping to reduce the risk of WRMDs, ensuring that sonographers can continue to provide high-quality care without risking their own health.

In conclusion, the field of ultrasound is evolving rapidly, and it's crucial for sonographers to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. The IAME's CME courses are playing a vital role in this, helping sonographers adapt to these changes and provide the best possible care to their patients.

References

1. Pessin YJ. Scope of Practice of Sonographers Across the United States: A Survey Study. Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. 2023;39(4):356-367. doi:10.1177/87564793231153650 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/87564793231153650

2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Handbook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm.

3. Cardiovascular Credentialing International, https://cci-online.org/

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