Tuesday 22 March 2022


In Conversation with Cathy ScottCathy Scott, Co-Lead of RAB VITAL Program

Report by: Dan Mahon

VITAL site visit

VITAL site visit

VITAL site visit

VITAL site visit

Cathy is a general sonographer in Sydney and a tutor with the Australian Institute of Healthcare Education (AIHE). Cathy is the Co-Lead of the RAB VITAL Program along with Don Kelly, one of the RAB directors. Cathy recently sat down for an interview about the program:


What is the VITAL program?

VITAL is a RAB project, that provides focussed education to upskill sonographers and clinicians providing ultrasound services in developing nations. Our main aim is to provide education in obstetrics, gynaecology, and breast ultrasound to reduce inequity globally in health services.


What does VITAL look like in practice?

VITAL was implemented in 2017 after RAB recognised a need to support ultrasound training in partner nations. From 2017 to 2019, RAB organised for teams of sonographers to provide onsite training. In 2017, the team went to Samoa, in 2018 to Fiji, and in 2019 to Vietnam. Over the last two years, RAB continued to support through virtual conferences. The 2021 Virtual VITAL Conference reached 51 nations. The VITAL program is now delivered in collaboration with the Australasian Sonographers Association (ASA).


VITAL Conference 2021

From left to right: Don Kelly, Catherine Robinson, Cathy Scott, Jane Fonda & Patrick Nielson


How is the practice of ultrasound different in the nations the team has visited?

In my experience, each partner nation has talented, hard working sonographers and clinicians performing ultrasound. The great difference is there is no ongoing educational support and a great lack of resources. Things we take for granted such as continuing professional development events by our ultrasound bodies, such as ASA, universities, workplaces, and equipment suppliers. We have up to date technology, equipment, and access to application specialists.

In most developing nations, ultrasound equipment is donated, and does not have the ongoing support of an application specialist. There are no disposable resources, such as towels, gowns, cleaning wipes etc. These luxuries we take for granted.


Are there any memorable ways in which VITAL is making a tangible difference?

I think one of the major differences we have made is the education in transvaginal (TV) ultrasound. Giving clinicians the confidence to use TV ultrasound, how to approach the exam, how to perform it, and the benefits.

Using TV ultrasound is a no-brainer, there is better detail, earlier detection of pelvic disease, better interrogation of the cervix and placenta allowing diagnosis of placenta previa, vasa previa or even a shortened cervix. This allows us to identify women who will need a Caesarean section or who are at risk of premature delivery. We can’t understate the difference this makes.

TV ultrasound was virtually unused in the nations we have visited. Some of the facilities we visited, still had their TV probe in the original packaging and it made so much difference to their practice after we demonstrated how to approach TV exams.


What can we expect from VITAL this year?

This year, our Virtual VITAL Conference will be held on the 30th of April. We have a range of excellent speakers, all real experts in their field. We will be covering topics from basic pelvic ultrasound, endometriosis, obstetric, and breast ultrasound. We will also be doing several live scanning tutorials. We hope you can join us.

Register for the one-day, free 2022 Virtual VITAL Conference coming soon.: