It was an honour to be invited to give the first presentation at the inaugural Congreso Internacional de Echografia para TSID (ultrasound conference) at Getafe University Hospital in Madrid on 13 October.
The presentation gave an overview of the current situation of ultrasound practice in Europe, based on survey findings from the European Federation of Radiographer Societies (EFRS). Common challenges for ultrasound advancement in Europe were shared, such as regulatory issues, the availability of high-quality ultrasound education and support from medical colleagues.
Educational requirements to enable safe ultrasound education and training were covered briefly, as was the need for robust competency assessment and national accreditation of education provision to ensure minimum standards are set and monitored against.
Gill addresssing the conference (All images: Begoña González Pastor)
During the talk, the career progression options for UK sonographers were mentioned, particularly advanced practice roles, which include expert clinical practice, education, leadership and management, audit and research.
Despite my terrible knowledge of Spanish and a few technical issues, it seemed that my Spanish colleague Isaac’s addition of subtitles to the PowerPoint slides and Susanna’s support in translating the questions and answers worked well.
There were questions about whether UK sonographers were taught pathology, if sonographers were medicolegally responsible for examinations and the level of practice undertaken by the majority of UK sonographers.
The timing was excellent as the conference coincided with the middle of Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month (#MUAM), when many organisations across the world celebrate the role that medical ultrasound plays in patient care pathways and the Society of Radiographers (SoR) promotes the role of sonographers.
The conference was a good opportunity to talk to radiographer leaders in Spain and Italy who are looking to develop education and support for radiographers in Europe to progress their careers into ultrasound. There appears to be an appetite for change similar to that during the early days of ultrasound in the UK.
Hopefully by working together across European countries this can be realised. The SoR, as a national society member of the EFRS, is keen to support these developments where possible in the hope that safe radiographer-led ultrasound services can flourish in other European countries as they do in the UK.