Written by Judith Buckland, MBA, RDCS, FASE

Sonographer Spotlight: Patrice McKay

This week’s guest writer is Patrice McKay. Check out her article on Gerbode’s Defect in Echocardiography. As always, we would like for you to learn more about our guest writer. The story of her journey into the world of echocardiography is inspiring and full of the kindness of others. Many clinicians were involved in lifting Patrice up with encouragement and providing her with opportunities to advance herself. We hope by sharing Patrice’s story it will motivate all of us to remember to help each other. Together we can improve the quality of diagnostic imaging and during the process, improve the quality of each others lives.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Patrice McKay and I have been a Cardiac Sonographer for 18 years. I am a wife and mother (21 year old son and 14 year old daughter). I am in the process of adopting my 3 year old nephew with Down Syndrome from Jamaica. I am a woman of faith, I love life and I love echocardiography!

Patrice McKay

How did you end up in ultrasound?

A career in healthcare had never crossed my mind as I was just trying to survive and keep a roof over my head. Shortly after migrating here from Jamaica I ran into some rough times and was doing whatever it took to navigate my difficult circumstances. I eventually got a job in the kitchen at JFK Medical Center as a diet aide. Thankfully, one of the charges nurses saw potential in me and kindly inquired if I wanted to become a unit secretary,

I accepted, and she arranged for my transfer and subsequently my training as a monitor Tech. During my time as a monitor tech, the cardiac sonographers were always kind to me. They would say hello and ask me about myself while encouraging me to further myself. One sonographer asked me if I liked ultrasound. I didn’t know! This was all new to me. I said yes, and he offered for me to shadow him during an exam. After watching a few echo exams I realized that I really liked it. I then took the next giant leap and enrolled in an ultrasound program. I was on the way to my new career.

Where do you currently work?

I currently work at Palms west Hospital, the sister hospital to JFK Medical Center where I started my career. I am the only full-time sonographer and I function as the resource person for the lab and preceptor for the new sonographers coming on. I love to help the new sonographers and I never forget my humble beginnings. Just as someone helped to pull me higher and realized my potential, it is my pleasure to do the same for others.

What are your future goals?

My hope for the future is to continue to grow in my field. I am passionate about echocardiography, and I look forward to being a part of the advancing field of echo. I would love to eventually work within an official teaching role and possibly research. I aspire to become a FASE and ACS credentialed.

Tell us about your recent volunteer assignment through the ASE

Last October, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE), in collaboration with West Virginia Heart and Vascular Institute with the Choice18 Project. It was their first US based outreach event since 2014, and was located in greater Morgantown area, West Virginia. I will never forget the tiny plane that took us from Pittsburgh to Morgantown. It was very nerve wrecking for me, but totally worth it!

Patrice McKay - plane for volunteer work

I had the privilege of working with so many skilled physicians and sonographers, along with some members of the ASE. During the outreach program we provided free cardiovascular screening to those in remote communities. We were lucky enough to use POCUS equipment donated by many other partners in care like Butterfly, AliveCor, Cloud DX and Hitachi to name a few.

Patrice McKay, american society of echocardiography volunteer
Patrice McKay, american society of echocardiography volunteer

It was great to give back. I feel like I have a responsibility to give back. So much has been given to me and as the saying goes, “to whom much is given much is required”.

Educator Spotlightsonographervolunteer

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Jim Carr
Thank you, Patrice, for that inspiring story and for giving back to the profession.

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