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Thursday, November 15, 2018, Issue 127

Ultrasound: the student's perspective #MUAM

Ultrasound equipment

AUTHOR: CHARMAINE SALFARLIE-BINNS

After 10 years in sports therapy, I decided a change was needed and a love for anatomy and physiology drove my interest into diagnostic imaging.
I knew from the beginning that ultrasound was my biggest area of interest, so with that in mind I embarked on a fascinating journey that would get me to where I am now.

After completing a diagnostic radiography degree and settling into a job, I quickly started applying for a trainee sonography post within my trust. To my delight, I was accepted, and City, University of London would be where I would study for the post graduate certificate in medical ultrasound.

I vividly remember the first day, with the lecturers reinforcing how intense, demanding, challenging, yet interesting, enjoyable and fulfilling the programme was.  This confirmed that this course was for me!

The course is designed to equip you with the knowledge and ability to be a sound, consistent and reliable reporting sonographer; to understand what it means and takes to become an advanced practitioner.

The lecturers ensure that the principles of best practice and evidence-based practice are drilled into you on a regular basis. A strong emphasis is put on independent learning and nothing is 'spoon fed', with the university Moodle e-learning system becoming my best friend.  A ‘flipped’ classroom approach is taken where you watch the lectures before the class, enabling you to ask questions and review notes having already read around the topic. I think this teaching method worked well and helps to solidify the knowledge needed for the course.

My toughest moments included staying up late researching and writing case studies, revising sonographic appearances and pathologies for hours; there’s no doubt it’s hard work. Grasping the scanning technique is a challenge in its self. I often compare it to driving a car, lots of little skills that you learn over time and eventually combine them together to become one big skill.

As a beginner, scanning was not easy for me and it took a lot of practice and patience. I found it frustrating and, at times, I wondered how I would ever get it. The great thing is, eventually you do.

It can be difficult at times being a student, with the heavy work load and trying to juggle everyday life. There are always deadlines to be met and I never really feel as if I know enough because there is always something new to learn. This is the fantastic thing about ultrasound. The constant forward progression, including developing techniques such as contrast enhanced ultrasound and elastography, make the profession ever interesting with expanding techniques to further improve diagnostics and intervention.

It’s not been an easy road and there is still more to come, having finished obstetrics and gynaecology and now completing abdominal and small parts, the journey has only just begun. However, I feel very positive about what is to come and pushing myself academically and clinically comes with great satisfaction.

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