Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Catherine Rienzo Catherine (Cathie) E. Rienzo, EdD, RT(R)(ARRT), RDMS, FSDMS
SDMS & SDMS Foundation President

Catherine (Cathie) Rienzo, EdD, RT(R)(ARRT), RDMS, FSDMS
, president of the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) and SDMS Foundation (2021-2023), has an immense record of leadership, volunteer service, and achievements. As her career advanced since entering the sonography community in 1980, Cathie has kept a humble nature, zesty passion for professional involvement, and an insatiable excitement for continuous learning.

A humble nature
 “I want students to know, even if you think you’re an average student—I did—you can do it!” Cathie has retired as a Northampton Community College professor, formally ending the treasured educator role she began in 2001. But she eagerly offers a key message when the time is right: “Make your mistakes when someone is watching over your shoulder and ready to help you. Then learn from those mistakes.”

Learn continuously
In December 2021, Cathie completed her doctorate in education, focused on educational leadership. It is strong proof of her dedication to continuous learning. At this stage of her career, a doctorate would not mean further career advancement. She jokes, “My husband thinks the biggest return on investment for all the time spent is that it kept me out of the shopping malls.” Her doctoral thesis compared the impact of virtual site visits for programmatic accreditation of education in diagnostic medical sonography to onsite visits two years before the pandemic and found them equally rigorous, even while a fondness for in-person connection lingers.

Grab opportunities
At the start of her career, Cathie was a radiographer at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Offered a chance to learn sonography, she grabbed it. Rudimentary ultrasound technology then meant no Doppler, no color, no real-time imaging. Physicians, nurses, and ultrasound technicians (as sonographers were called) learned side-by-side, thrilling at the sight of a gallstone in a static image. At that time, passing a physics test was required before any specialty board exam could even be considered. Again, formal education in the field was scant. “The ultrasound equipment service tech was happy to explain physics to us eager learners!” Gain knowledge from everyone. Never stop.

Go for value, not status
Cathie is an ardent supporter of volunteering and most emphatically NOT because “it will look good on your resume.” She says the value is what you learn from others through networking, the lifelong friendships you will make, and the chance to develop your abilities to see projects through to completion. A bullet point on a resume is secondary, she says. Early volunteer experience for Cathie came out of need and ultimately grew to phenomenal proportions. Upon becoming an educator, Cathie quickly realized she didn’t know what was needed for accreditation of sonography programs. To fill this gap, she enrolled in a site visitor training program offered by the Joint Review Committee for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). She learned what she needed and kept going in leadership roles with the JRC-DMS. Cathie has represented the SDMS as liaison with not only the JRC-DMS but more than 10 organizations in the sonography community.

Best icebreaker
Cathie is very busy as the president of the SDMS and the SDMS Foundation, but there’s one sure way to turn her head in a crowd and grab her attention. Tell her about the impact you’re making and how your sonography education has proved helpful. There is nothing she enjoys more than having former students come back to share their experiences. The fresh excitement they feel is similar to the joy Cathie and others felt during the profession’s earlier times. Hearing about forward progress completes a circle of sonography fraternity and purpose, as strong, invincible, and, like Cathie, humble, as ever.

Cathie Rienzo “At-a-Glance”

Education
  • Associate degree, Drexel University
  • Bachelor’s degree, University of St. Francis
  • Master’s degree, University of St. Francis
  • Doctor of education, educational leadership, University of St. Francis

Certifications

From the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists

  • Registered Radiologic Technologist, or RT(R)(ARRT)

From the ARDMS

  • Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS)
  • ARDMS Specialty Certifications: Abdomen, OB/GYN, and Breast

Publications/Research

  • Rienzo CE. The SDMS Commitment to Addressing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders in Sonography. Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. 2022;38(5):387-389.
  • Rienzo CE. The impact of virtual site visits on programmatic accreditation through the commission on accreditation of allied health education programs (CAAHEP) (Order No. 28768443). 2021. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2596028366).
  • Michael K, Rienzo C, Whitten T. Sonography education: Incidental findings in scan lab models. Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. 2019.
  • Rienzo CE., Mark IT. Serendipitous Diagnosis of a Ganglioneuroma in a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Educational Setting. Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. 2016;32(3). 181-184. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/8756479316640527


Awards and Fellowships

  • Fellow, Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, 2013


Current Role

  • President of the SDMS and SDMS Foundation
  • Member of the Board, Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • JRC-DMS Board of Directors, Ex-Officio Member


Other Professional Roles

  • Program Director (retired), Northampton Community College diagnostic sonography program
  • Guest faculty, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Alvernia University
  • Site surveyor for the State Education Department/University, State of New York Office of Higher Education
  • Site visitor for the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Professor and Program Director (Retired), Northampton Community College


Additional SDMS Service

  • Governance Committee
  • Executive Committee
  • Emerging Leaders Committee
  • Conference Management Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Education Committee
  • SDMS Board of Directors (2011-2017, 2019-Present)
  • SDMS and SDMS Foundation Treasurer (2013-2017)
  • JRC-DMS Liaison for the SDMS (2011-2019)
  • SDMS Liaison to the following organizations:
    • American College of Radiology (ACR)
    • American Healthcare Radiology Administrators (AHRA)
    • American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM)
    • American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)
    • American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
    • American Society of Echocardiography (ASE)
    • Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA)
    • Sonography Canada
    • Society for Vascular Ultrasound (SVU)