Cardiac imaging is integral to patient care with echocardiography playing a leading role in disease diagnosis, intervention and surveillance. The role of echocardiography also generates greater understanding of disease processes and disease prevention. With an emphasis on improving survival rates and quality of life, combined with the evolving nature of cardiac imaging, training and the development and maintenance of specialist skills in echocardiography are vital.
The British Society of Echocardiography membership encompasses healthcare specialists with a variety of professional qualifications, experiences and backgrounds. With a blend of cardiologists, nurses, intensivists and cardiac physiologists/scientists, one can appreciate the variations in different training programmes.
For cardiology medical trainees undergoing cardiac imaging training, echocardiography, alongside computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear medicine, is one of four potential areas of sub specialisation. As part of the training programme, cardiology doctors training in echocardiography are required to complete their Level 2 BSE accreditation. Advanced echo, alongside CT and MRI, is recognised as being distinct from basic TTE training and this sees trainees also become proficient in transoesophageal echocardiography and stress echocardiography. The combination of this training programme with their general medical training yields specialist imaging consultants well versed in the interpretation of cardiac imaging and physics, and it’s application within clinical medicine.
The pathway for scientists is somewhat more varied. Having completed underlying qualifications in physiology or science, today’s scientific trainees undergo a three year Masters programme with a focus on Echocardiography. BSE accreditation is a key component required for advancement. Progression for scientists often comprises advanced clinical practice in the form of scientist-led clinics in heart failure, valve disease and adult congenital heart disease. Following clinical experience and specialty training, scientists can also advance to a higher specialist scientist level. Both of these scientific roles are now recognised by the Academy of Healthcare science, with registration under the Health Care Professions Council. More prevalent now is the role of devolved echocardiography with consultants, specialist doctors and nurses utilising echo skills in intensive care, emergency medicine, elderly care and the community. As a result, our understanding of echocardiography, its usefulness and advantage, broadens.
Working in echocardiography also facilitates opportunities to become involved in research. This is an increasingly growing field which is supported by academic training fellowships both on a medical and scientific level. For further information regarding advice on working within Cardiology, please contact [email protected] Please also refer to our recruitment page!