Dr Dan Augustine, Consultant Cardiologist at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust and Mr Shaun Robinson, Consultant Cardiac Scientist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, look back on three years as Co-Chairs of the British Society of Echocardiography’s (BSE) Education Committee.
A reminiscent look at 31 years of the BSE with Mr Keith Pearce and an outstanding review of contemporary and future imaging directions in heart failure with Professor Otto Smiseth brought the BSEcho 2022 annual conference to a close and marked an end to our three-year term as co-chairs of the Education Committee.
We have been honoured to chair the Education Committee since 2019 and have been supported throughout by the formidable education team of Hatty Grant and Ifesinachi Okongwu and by our amazing society Chief Executive Officer, Jo Sopala. Without this team, none of the BSE education functions would be possible.
For all of us, the two-day annual conference is a date in the calendar where we look forward to learning from experts, being inspired in our practice and socialising with the people we haven’t seen over the past year or those we spend the majority of our working days with. So, after two years of attending the annual conference via a laptop and sofa, or crowded around a hospital computer in an echo room, we were all excited to get back into a conference centre and meet in person the people we hadn’t seen for so long. However, there’s lots to consider when planning an event of this size, so when discussing how we can continue the huge success and record attendance of the past two years, we knew that a hybrid approach of virtual and face-to-face offered attendance options for those who were unable to or chose not to attend in person as well as those who were looking forward to meeting face-to-face. And thanks to the incredible work of the entire BSE management team, in particular Hatty, Ifesinachi and Jo, both platforms of virtual and in-person BSEcho 2022 were an incredible success and an amazing end to our time as co-chairs.
When becoming co-chairs in 2019, our plan for the next three years was to continue the growth of the annual BSE education programme, develop a clear guideline writing process and open up recruitment to the education committee for the whole society.
As we all adapted to the COVID restrictions in place from early 2020, our methods of providing educational events and meetings switched immediately from exclusively in-person to exclusively virtual. Although this format change required us to learn new processes quickly, it very soon became clear that our reach for providing education to members was far wider when hosting events online. This was demonstrated with our first ever BSE webinar in May 2020 that focused on echo during COVID-19, where we broadcast to over 500 attendees (with many more sharing screens). Webinars have since become an essential format in the provision of BSE education and have transformed the way regional meetings are delivered.
In addition to delivering educational meetings and conferences, a key role of the education committee is to deliver the national guidance for performing echocardiography. With the outstanding contributions of the co-authors and an invited international senior author for each manuscript, we have been able to significantly expand the BSE catalogue of guidelines and now have comprehensive guidance for our members in all key areas of echocardiography. All of our guidelines are published in the BSE journal, Echo Research and Practice, and we are grateful to the ERP publishing teams for all their support over the past three years.
Finally, we have always recognised that there are many experts amongst our BSE members but that unless they were recommended to us, we previously had no way of recruiting their expertise to the Education Committee. Therefore, to access the expertise of the society members and to ensure that our membership is well represented on the committee, we developed an open recruitment process to allow any member of the society to apply for membership of the Education Committee. These interviews took place in Spring 2022 and were extremely successful with 9 new members welcomed to the committee from various clinical and academic backgrounds.
We’d finally like to thank all of the past and present members of the Education Committee for their amazing support during our three years as co-chairs. Every member dedicates their own time to the committee in addition to their extremely busy day job, and have done during what has been a very difficult period for all of us. What we’ve been able to achieve in our time as co-chairs is a reflection of their hard work, for which we’re very grateful. It has been a pleasure to chair a committee full of dedicated colleagues who are passionate about providing education and we wish Professor David Oxborough and Dr Liam Ring every success during their term as co-chairs.