Career Advice for Sonographers
I have been fortunate to have experienced 33 years in the ever-changing, exciting field of sonography. I’ve witnessed the evolution of diagnostic imaging and watched the roles of sonographers expand in healthcare. Occasionally I hear sonography described as a secret club, so I want to share some advice with my fellow club members, whether you’re a newbie or have some years under your belt, on how to keep challenging yourself and growing in this dynamic profession.
Never Stop Learning
One of the most significant aspects of sonography is that it is constantly evolving. New technologies, imaging techniques and protocols emerge regularly. Embrace lifelong learning by attending workshops, conferences and online courses. Stay current with the latest advancements to provide the best patient care. I personally discovered I like to learn actively, and while volunteering to write exam questions for ARDMS, I found the process of writing them was a very engaging way for me to learn. All sonographers are encouraged to try this. If you get a difficult or interesting case, take the time to read more about it, use it as an opportunity to do research.
Seek Mentorship and Collaboration
Mentorship is a valuable resource for personal and professional growth. If you’re a seasoned sonographer, consider mentoring younger colleagues to share your knowledge and experience. On the flip side don’t hesitate to seek guidance and collaboration from your peers when you have a challenging case. As an experienced sonographer you have the power to inspire and support the next generation of our professionals. Share your wisdom and experience with others. Encourage young sonographers to pursue excellence and embrace new challenges.
There is so much to learn in this field that to keep it exciting and interesting. Explore a new specialty within sonography such as obstetrics, vascular, breast, echocardiography or MSK. Pursuing a specialization may provide new career opportunities, as well as deepen your expertise and make you an invaluable asset to your team. When it comes to our careers, we should never feel at a standstill, especially because we have so many choices! Maybe teaching would be something you’d like or working applications for an equipment vendor? How about doing a travel locum? And with a new skill, such as MSK, the possibilities are endless (sports clinics, rheumatologists, etc.)
The world of medical imaging is closely tied to technological advancements. Embrace new ultrasound equipment, learn everything you can about it. Challenge yourself to go through every button and option on the machine you use. Familiarize yourself with 3D/4D imaging, contrast enhanced ultrasound and other emerging technologies to broaden your skills.
Continuously Improve Patient Communication
Effective communication is a vital part of our job. Continually work to improve how to explain things clearly to your patients to alleviate their anxiety and build trust. Compassion and empathy are as important as technical skills in providing excellent patient care.
Maintain Professional Certifications
Ensure that you maintain and renew your professional certifications regularly. These not only demonstrate your commitment to excellence but keep you updated with standards and best practices. Consider volunteering for your professional organization – this has the added benefit of networking and making new connections!
Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy
A long and successful career in sonography requires taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing. Practice good self-care and maintain a healthy lifestyle; exercise and do your best to manage stress. Always be aware of your ergonomics. If you feel that you are becoming injured, ask yourself “what can I do to change my positioning?” I have been lucky enough to never suffer RSI, but I credit that success to the variety of exams and specialties I have done over my career. Each discipline can change your biomechanics, do what you can to avoid years of repetitious work.
I have been very lucky to have had a long career doing something I love and can still be truly passionate about. To my colleagues and friends also in this amazing profession, remember that the challenge to grow and evolve never ends. Embrace change, stay curious and keep pushing the boundaries of your expertise. By doing so you’ll not only advance your career but also contribute to the continued excellence of sonography. Here’s to many more years of our club making a difference in patients’ lives through the amazing science of ultrasound.