Medical sonographer clinical training is often the one area that ultrasound students are most concerned about for many reasons. They want a good idea of where the ultrasound clinical sites are located and what is involved in the training. Students want to understand how sites are selected in 2017 and what clinical rotations involve. Many of the questions are answered in the detailed student handbooks which are often posted online. Following are some of the most common questions asked.
What is a clinical affiliate?
Clinical affiliates are medical facilities that have agreed to allow sonography students, while under direct supervision, get hands-on experience with patients. The educational institution and the clinical site sign an affiliation agreement that defines the relationship. Most programs have multiple clinical affiliates so that students can the type of training needed. For example, one site may be ideal for cardiovascular sonographer training while another site specializes in OB/GYN ultrasound.
Do I have to do clinical rotations?
Most sonography programs require clinical rotations to ensure that students get real-word sonography training in a variety of ultrasound areas, such as pediatric sonography, abdomen, vascular technology, musculoskeletal sonography and so on. The clinical rotations also give students the opportunity to work in a variety of healthcare settings, better preparing them for a career in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. A few programs are offered at large prestigious medical centers, so sonography students do all their clinical training on-site.
Do I have any input into the selection of clinical sites?
The sonography program faculty make the final selection of clinical sites. However, the student is likely to be asked where they would prefer to do their training in particular ultrasound areas based on the list of clinical affiliates. Some programs will allow the student to submit names of preferred clinical sites that are currently clinical affiliates, but they must meet certain criteria and be willing to sign an affiliate agreement.
I have transportation issues and am worried I will be unable to reach a clinical site. What should I do?
Students must arrange their own transportation to campus and to the clinical sites. Some students choose to attend online sonography programs because they allow more flexibility in the selection of a local clinical site. However, the student still needs to be able to periodically visit the campus hosting the online program and to complete clinical training.
I am so anxious about the clinical training requirement. Should I still choose Diagnostic Medical Sonography as a career?
Clinical training is required for many reasons, and one of them is to let students get comfortable delivering healthcare services to patients. Another reason is to give them experience working with other healthcare professionals. It is natural to be anxious, but anxiety should not derail career goals.
Will the ultrasound equipment at the clinical sites be similar to the program equipment?
Yet another good reason to do clinical rotations is to gain experience on a variety of ultrasound equipment. The ultrasound machines will be of different ages, use varying technology and be different brands. However, all ultrasound equipment, even the mobile technology, are similar in that they have a screen and a transducer of some type.
Do I really get to do ultrasound scans, or will I be the department errand runner?
Students will do ultrasound scans on patient as part of the medical sonographer training. The type and number of scans allowed are entirely up to the student’s supervisor. The supervisor is the person who assesses the student’s skills and knowledge and make the determination that the student is ready to do scanning. The student will also spend a significant amount of time observing ARDMS registered sonographers performing scans. This gives student opportunities to learn how to differentiate between human structures.
The full-time clinical training schedule at the end of the program is like a full-time job. Can I miss any assigned clinical hours?
Missed hours means the student has not completed required clinical training. Generally, only two types of absences are excused: military service or government subpoenas. Even in those cases, the hours must be made up before the end of the clinical training period.
Medical sonographer clinical training is of vital importance to the ultrasound technology student. The clinical training gives the student an opportunity to apply classroom learning and laboratory training in an actual healthcare setting. The clinical training time is the most exciting time spent in the program for many students. Being able to help people deal with their medical issues is the main reason people choose ultrasound technology as a career.
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