I spend a lot of time doing research and putting together what I hope are informational articles about the field of ultrasound, or sonography. While I strive to give you the best facts possible, it never hurts to get another person’s point of view. That is what prompted me to sit down with Angela Quint, a fellow certified ultrasound technician, to find out what she thinks about the future of the field.
Ross: Thanks for taking the time to sit with me and share some of your insights with our readers. Could you start by telling us about your training and experience as an ultrasound technician?
Angela: Well, I’ve been working as an ultrasound technician for about 7 ½ years now. I took classes through a local career training school near my home in Albany, NY. I was already working in a hospital setting when I decided to start the training program, so I had a lot of great peer mentors to help me through and I didn’t have a hard time transitioning into my new position after I graduated and took my certification exam.
Ross: What led you to what to become an ultrasound technician?
Believe it or not, I went to a vocational high school and was able to start working as a certified nursing assistant straight out of high school. I originally thought I would go on to become a nurse but once I was working in the field full-time I realized that it wasn’t the right fit for me. Diagnostic medicine has always fascinated me so I became an x-ray technician first. I knew that the best thing I could do to advance my career was to train in other forms of imaging, so I went to school to become an ultrasound technician – and I love it. I see such fascinating people every day!
Ross: What is your most memorable experience as an ultrasound technician?
Angela: Well, I have two, really. I will never, ever forget the first time I did an ultrasound for a pregnant woman. It was her first ultrasound and my first fetal ultrasound. I didn’t tell her that, of course. The look of sheer joy on her face I showed her the fetus on the screen was unforgettable.
The second memory is, of course, the elderly woman I had into an office for a carotid doppler – the ultrasound we do to test the function of the carotid arteries. She, of course, only associated the ultrasound with pregnancy and had no idea why I was going to stick “that goo” all over her neck. I had one heck of a time convincing her that ultrasounds were used in different fields on a regular basis. She was only in her late 60′s and, thankfully, her daughter was with her on the day of the test and was helpful in convincing her to let me do the procedure. Looking back, it was pretty funny.
Ross: A number of people are debating the term technician vs. technologist, saying that the term technician indicates a person doesn’t have the education necessary to get the job done. What do you think?
Angela: I’m not really sure why anyone would make a big deal over terms that are so similar in nature. The truth of the matter is that the technicians, or technologists, or sonographers – whatever you want to call them – are the ones that make a difference. All of us have to go to school. All of us have to become certified in order to find a job. All of us have to prove ourselves to find and maintain active employment.
I remember reading late last year about a study done by some students at the University of Illinois. They gathered three technicians for an interview and asked them an umber of questions about the types of equipment they used, how to get great image quality, how to adjust frequencies, and things like that. At the end, they got a pregnant woman to volunteer and put an X on her belly so that all three technicians would use the same spot to perform the same ultrasound. The three images they ended up with were astoundingly different because each one had made different adjustments to the same machine.
I’m not saying any of them were right or wrong but I am saying that the skill is in the person doing the work – not in the title. It’s a very silly argument.
Ross: What advice do you have for students currently working towards becoming certified ultrasound technicians?
Angela: Make sure this is really what you want to do with your life. You may not be involved with the same sort of day-to-day patient care as doctors and nurses, but becoming an ultrasound technician requires a huge amount of patience and empathy. You’re going to meet a lot of people through your work, some of them happy and some of them terrified of finding out they have a serious illness or disease. The job can sometimes be very draining on an emotional level, but it can be rewarding as well.
Ross: Thanks so much for sharing some of your time with my readers. We really appreciate your insights.
Angela: No problem, Ross. Please feel free to send me any questions your readers might think of after reading this. I’m always happy to talk to those who are thinking about the field, or who are already in the field.
I hope you all found this interview helpful. As Angela noted, she is willing to field questions from those of you who would like more information, as am I. Just send them my way and one of us will get back to you ASAP!