Most Diagnostic Medical Sonography students attending one of the CAAHEP accredited programs will need to complete clinical sonography training, depending on the degree or diploma sought. For many of the students it will be the first time they have worked with real patients. That can create anxiety which is a natural reaction. There are ways to alleviate the anxiety by developing a professional demeanor, positive attitude and willingness to learn and be helpful.
Just Like a Job
Before starting the ultrasound technician program, some sonography students have already worked in medical and health facilities as volunteers or health aides, meaning they have worked around live patients already. They can approach the clinical training component of the ultrasound technology program with a greater understanding of what is in store for them than students that have never worked around live patients.
People who have never been directly involved with patients sometimes get anxious about the sonography program practicum. Words of advice from professional Diagnostic Medical Sonographers who have completed a CAAHEP accredited program begin with the recommendation that students treat the clinical training like it is a paid job rather than a training program. Starting any new job can produce anxiety, but keeping the end goals in sight at all times is helpful. To begin a great career as a sonographer, the clinical training must be successfully completed.
Following are some additional tips for making the clinical training experience an enjoyable learning experience:
- Observe Diagnostic Medical Sonographers in the clinical setting before starting the practicum, if possible
- Read all training materials and clinical sonography guides prepared by faculty to assist students
- Learn, appreciate and work within the organizational culture
- Talk to sonography students who have been on clinical rotation or have completed clinical training
- Do not hesitate to ask questions concerning policies, procedures, responsibilities, expectations and progress
- Always ask for required assistance when patients are involved while showing a willingness to do activities like starting a patient after proper training
- Show interest in the welfare of patients by talking to other healthcare professionals involved in their care
- Offer to prep all patients for the experience and to prove a sincere desire to learn
- Learn the layout of the imaging department and hospital or clinic as quickly as possible
- Learn where supplies, equipment and other materials are kept as soon as possible
- Learn the procedure for getting patients in and out of the imaging department, whether they are inpatients or outpatients
- Show up for each clinical assignment early to show enthusiasm and to prevent feeling rushed
- Get to know departmental and other staff
- Stay busy and volunteer to help other healthcare professionals when possible
- Be helpful to other students
- Be willing to do anything and everything that helps the department run smoothly, like answering the phone, folding laundry, helping patients and so on
Students should always be cooperative. If the clinical training requires maintaining a performance and attendance record keeping system like the Trajecsys system, an online student tracking system, then ensure it is kept up-to-date. If daily log sheets are required for documentation, they should always be current.
Maintaining professionalism at all times is as important for the sonography student as it is for an employed Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. Students want to be on time each day, be cooperative and helpful, follow the rules and be willing to learn from others.
In addition, presentation is important. Sonography students who maintain a professional demeanor will always wear a clean and pressed uniform, will not indulge in behaviors like gum chewing or eating on the job, do not “sneak” cigarettes, and always walk and talk with dignity. These are the types of practical instructions found in the student guides prepared by Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs.
Rounding Out the Picture
The clinical evaluation considers a whole set of student qualities to determine competency. In addition to the quality of work and ability to stay organized, it will consider:
- Patient rapport
Working with real patients is an exciting component of the sonography program, but it can also be stressful. It is natural for students to want to do the best job possible and anxiety can get in the way of reaching that goal. It is important to approach the clinical training with a positive attitude and willingness to be as cooperative and helpful as possible. The facility staff and faculty will be supportive at all times.
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