Welcome back, friends. Today we have another addition to our ongoing series of interviews with ultrasound technicians. This time I’m speaking to Juanita Dunkin, a long-time sonographer with extensive experience in the field.
Ross: Hi, Juanita. I’d like to thank you again for taking part in our interview series. Could you start by telling us about your experience as an ultrasound technician?
Juanita: Hi Ross. Sure. I started out in the field of ultrasound about 10 years ago. For the first 5 years or so, I was working strictly in an OB/GYN office, so I got to do a lot of work with expecting mothers and occasionally with women experiencing other types of female-related problems. I did later complete some continuing education courses and got my RVT (Registered Vascular Technologist) certification as well. I now work part-time in a diagnostic clinic and I teach at a local career center part-time as well.
Ross: What is your favorite part of your work and what do you like least?
Juanita: I really enjoy the patient contact I get to make. Despite not being able to give patients test results or point out problems, I do enjoy explaining the procedure and showing them different anatomical parts on the computer screen as I move along. Some of my patients are really fascinated because the closest they’ve gotten to seeing an internal organ is the pictures they’ve seen in books.
What do I hate? Routine machine maintenance, for sure! I’d rather be working with patients, not cleaning, worrying about breakdowns, or making upgrades to the software we use.
Ross: I understand you can’t tell us much about where you are teaching right now, but can you tell us a little bit about your experiences as a teacher? What is your greatest challenge?
Juanita: I really do love teaching. You can tell right from the start of each semester who is really into what they’re doing and which students are simply going through the motions because they need some training and a job. Thankfully, most medically-related training programs seem to be like self-cleaning ovens – those who love what they’re doing will stick it out and those who really don’t (or who don’t want to put any effort into what they are learning) will drop out or transfer into another program. That’s really OK, though. I truly believe you should spend your time doing things you love.
Believe it or not, my greatest challenge is helping students through the anatomy and physiology sections of their courses. Most are so excited they can’t imagine doing anything other than sitting in front of the machine with the wand and some gel. I laugh at the situation, sometimes. Fortunately, most are amazed at the opportunity to be so up close and personal with the human body, so they catch on really quickly – more so, I think, than people who have to learn anatomy but never put it to practical use.
Ross: Juanita, there seems to be some debate over whether those in the field should be using the term technician, technologist, or sonographer when referring to the work we do. Some believe the word “technician” sounds unprofessional. I’m asking everyone we interview to weigh in on the debate. What do you think?
Juanita: Honestly? I’m probably going to side with the unpopular opinion on this one. I really think that technologist and sonographer sound more professional. Those are the terms incorporated into the RDMS and RDCS designations as well and they do sound a bit – I don’t know – nicer. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m definitely not going to jump down anyone’s throat for calling me a technician. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
Ross: Thanks again for spending some time with us today. Is there anything you’d like to add for those who are considering a career in ultrasound?
Juanita: Study hard, pay attention to what you are learning, and do your best. You never know what will happen in life and you may one day be the person responsible for seeing the tiniest speck indicating a problem on your screen. You may be working in diagnostic testing, but your contributions are incredibly important!
Thanks again, everyone, for reading today. As always, send me any questions you might have for Juanita or for me. I’ll do my best to address them all as soon as possible!