Sonographers to receive specialist training at UWE

The University of West England Bristol has secured funding for a project for sonographers to develop skills and advance their practice

Published: 05 December 2023 Sonography

The University of West England Bristol is launching a project to enable sonographers to expand, advance and develop their fields of practice and further their skillsets.

With the aim of helping to alleviate long patient waiting lists, the University of the West of England (UWE) has secured funding from NHS England to fund a project in which sonographers will be trained by specialist practitioners to develop their clinical skills in interventional procedures.

UWE has organised two workshops which will use ultrasound equipment, phantoms, and anatomical models. Each sonographer will be paired with a clinical expert mentor, and spend time working with their mentor in clinical practice. 

'Hands-on training'

These workshops are available to both students and practicing sonographers. Students will have the opportunity to obtain academic credits for their learning by completing an assessed academic module at UWE.

All training is fully funded and no academic costs will be incurred.

A UWE spokesperson said: “Clinical sonographers are well placed to extend their practice, and establish new and innovative approaches to imaging and reporting. To facilitate this, many sonographers will require additional training to acquire new skills and knowledge. Acquiring these new skills will require a very hands-on method of training.”

The 'general biopsy and drainage' workshop will be held on Thursday 1 February at UWE, and will include biopsy, fine needle aspiration (head and neck), cyst drainage, and paracentesis training. The 'musculoskeletal joint injection' workshop will be held on Friday 2 February, and will include shoulder, elbow, hand, knee and foot training.

Long-term opportunities

(Image: Vivien Gibbs, project lead)

The workshops will consist of lectures and opportunities to practise techniques on phantoms, and will be led by Peter Cantin, consultant sonographer at University Hospitals Plymouth, and Steve Savage, consultant sonographer and clinical director at the Radiology Department of Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Antonio Sassano, medical ultrasound programme co-lead and senior lecturer at UWE, told the Society: “Many sonographers have the desire to extend their scope of practice and to develop more specialist skills in order to help reduce patient waiting lists, but find it difficult to obtain the necessary practical training. This project will provide an opportunity for them to learn these skills, and obtain academic recognition for their new areas of practice by studying for a Negotiated Specialist Practice module at UWE. 

“UWE has a long history in delivering CASE [Consortium for the Accreditation of Sonographic Education] accredited ultrasound education delivered by expert sonographers and ultrasound healthcare professionals, and provides learners access to state-of-the-art training facilities and resources.”

Funding is intended for sonographers working in the South West region of England, and is also available for sonographers working in the private sector in the region, where NHS contracts are in place. 

The project will be monitored longer term to establish any challenges encountered, to identify opportunities for further development, and to quantify the impact on clinical practice within the SW region. It is being led by Professor Marc Griffiths, pro-vice chancellor and head of College for Health, Science and Society, and Dr Vivien Gibbs, visiting professor at the college.

(Steve Savage, consultant sonographer, clinical director Radiology Department, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust)

(Dr Rita Phillips, joint programme lead, MSc Medical Ultrasound)

(Antonio Sassano, programme co-lead and senior lecturer, MSc Medical Ultrasound Programme)

(Glenda Toach, senior lecturer, MSc Medical Ultrasound programme)

If a department or a sonographer is interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, please contact Vivien Gibbs ([email protected]) for further information.

(Image: Marc Griffths, project lead, via UWE Bristol)