Updated: Jul 21
As we begin a new year for the Society of Pediatric Echocardiography, we would like to take a moment to reflect back at the changes that have occurred over the last few years. When Mark Lewin took over as President in July, 2019, none of us could have predicted how the next few years would transpire. Our communities and our health care systems have faced tremendous challenges from the pandemic, with cardiac imaging teams being thrust to the forefront of patient care in many situations. We came together as a community, learned from each other about the effects of COVID on the cardiovascular system, and importantly also learned ways to keep ourselves safe which continuing to deliver comprehensive cardiac imaging to children and young adults. Though the pandemic is far from over, we are optimistic that the worst is behind us, and we truly hope that these last two years of Virtual SOPE Symposiums will be happily replaced with a return to in-person gatherings when we convene in Seattle in 2022.
Despite these challenges, SOPE has seen tremendous growth over the last 24 months. Once perceived as largely a means to host an annual, one-night event, we have made a concerted effort to provide more broad-based value to you, our members, throughout the year. We created subcommittees which focus on the needs you have conveyed, specifically Education, Early Career Development, and Communication. The Echo Collaborative, an idea born out of SOPE and led by our former President, Dr. Cohen, has initiated their first project with several more in the pipeline. We hosted Webinars with over a thousand attendees, ranging from Adult Congenital Heart Disease to Fetal Echocardiography, with 3 more webinars currently planned. While CME and academic societal engagement are challenges for all care providers, they have become increasingly difficult for our Sonographer community, so we made a concerted effort to increase Sonographer membership and value. As a result of these changes, despite not being able to host in person meetings as we usually do, we have increased our overall membership from 179 last year to 329 total members today, including an increase from 60 to over 200 sonographer members!
In terms of what to expect in the year to come, we would humbly submit to you that while we have had great accomplishments in the last few years, we think the best of SOPE is yet to come. We have changed our Board structure to allow more involvement from our members. We also now have shared leadership from both a Physician President and Sonographer Co-Chair to ensure we are meeting your needs. The other major push you will see from us this year will be centered around collaboration. Many of us wear a wide range of hats, including echo, CMR, CCT, teaching, academic pursuits, etc. Finding synergies between SOPE and many of the other academic societies, such as ASE, RDMS, SCMR, and SCCT can allow us to position SOPE as the premier Society for pediatric and congenital cardiac imaging. Involvement and leadership in projects such as the Echo Collaborative and the CHAMBER project (led by Drs. Reddy and Lopez) will continue to bring our members and their institutions opportunities for professional growth.
In conclusion, we would like the thank the amazing leadership we have had in the past, and in particular Dr. Meryl Cohen, who is rotating off the Board, and Dr. Mark Lewin, who becomes our Past President. It is the tireless work of those individuals and many others that has positioned our Society so well today, and we look forward to the opportunity to explore what the future can bring for us all. Thank you all for your support, and we look forward to seeing you soon.
Bernadette and Tim
Bernadette Richards, RDCS, FASE
Tim Slesnick, MD, FASE