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Introduction to Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month

30 September, 2020
Gill Harrison, SoR Professional Officer for Ultrasound
Gill Harrison, SoR Professional Officer for Ultrasound

The twelve months since MUAM2019 have been a roller coaster for everyone, sonographers included, writes Gill Harrison. None of us could have anticipated in October 2019 what a difference three or four months could make to the global health and economic situation.

We’ve become familiar with many words that we would infrequently hear under normal circumstances - ‘unprecedented’ has been one of them. With these new words have come various slogans, some easier to understand than others.

Changes to working practice have been the norm, whether it’s learning how to communicate online, find your way around Zoom, GoTo, Teams, Webex and Skype all in one day, or navigate through the challenges of sweating in PPE, seeing through a visor, deep cleaning equipment and managing to keep an ultrasound service running with staff in shielding, isolating or sick with the virus.

Educational colleagues have had to change their whole way of teaching, assessing, interacting with and supporting students. Ultrasound students have had to pause their clinical education and assessments and there is still uncertainty about how universities will deliver programmes in the new academic term.

At the SCoR we have worked really hard to try and provide links to the relevant guidance and ensure that sonographers were provided with support to access appropriate PPE needed to keep them and their patients safe. I never thought, when I started the role on 1 March this year, that I would be trying to understand the detail of a novel coronavirus and the impact it would have on ultrasound practice and sonographers. It’s been a steep learning curve to say the least.

There have been the personal challenges as well, social isolation for some, separated from family, home schooling, empty supermarket shelves, strange exam result algorithms to name but a few. Missing big life events has impacted many. I know of sonographers who have postponed weddings, missed out on big birthdays, had no support from family and friends after childbirth or treatment for illness. I’ve missed my father’s 90th, a 50th, 16th and 18th birthday, all in the space of six weeks, but I’m sure I’ve had it easy compared to many.

Sonographers have shown courage, leadership and resilience throughout the past six months or so, as they have worked tirelessly to provide a highly effective, safe service to patients. Many patients have been symptomatic and scared, not only because of the symptoms but also the virus. Pregnancy scans have continued when other screening services have been on pause.

The way ultrasound services have operated have had to change, leading to new challenges. Sonographers have had their own concerns and anxieties about not only their health, but that of their family - hoping they would not bring the virus home to infect their own partners, children, parents.

This year for MUAM we want to celebrate the successes, highlight the challenges and acknowledge the positives that have come from the new ways of working during the global pandemic, in a range of activities on social media and at sor.org. And in this edition of Synergy News we share some of the articles now available online.

The Ultrasound Advisory Group also wanted to add a bit of fun into the month and to showcase the amazing sonographer talents, so following on from the fabulous cake that Roxanne Sicklen made in 2018, there will be a bake-off competition.

For those who don’t bake, we’ll accept a ‘create-off’ spin on the title. Sadly the judges will not be able to taste-test the produce but there will be a prize for one entry (judges’ decision will be final). To enter, tweet a photo of your offering with the hashtags #MUAM2020 #Iamasonographer and don’t forget @SCoRMembers, so we can retweet your creations. If you can’t tweet but really want to enter your showstoppers, please email your photo to me at Gillh@sor.org. If you have a poem, painting, or other ultrasound-related fun things to share, do get in touch.

 

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