The core curriculum of Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs consist of a mix of courses that teach students about creating and interpreting sonographic images. One of the trends in curriculum development in 2017 is the addition of a variety of courses that discuss successful strategies for interacting with a diversity of patients. Each program selects its own topics, but they all address topics like multiculturalism, ethics and legal complexities in the healthcare setting.
Starting with the Basics in Sonography Programs
The CAAHEP accredited sonography programs programs have been assessed for quality in terms of how well the student is prepared for a career as a sonographer. Every program teaches courses like sonography instrumentation, abdominal sonography and so on. Classroom work is combined with hands-on skills training, so that the graduated student is prepared to take the ARDMS credentialing exams and then begin a career as a sonographer. The core curriculum teaching imaging skills does not vary much from program to program because it teaches the skills needed to perform the day-to-day job with accuracy and good judgment.
However, knowing how to operate ultrasound equipment and read scans is only part of the job. Sonographers work with people who come from all different backgrounds. The people include patients, family members, medical professionals, non-medical staff and the public. Adding yet more complexity is the fact the sonographer must work in a healthcare setting that has its own culture developed through time and representing the mix of people who work use and work in the facility. Yet a third level of complexity is the community and legal context of the health care facility’s setting. For example, a hospital may be located in a community that is majority Hispanic and many of the patients speak only Spanish.
In addition to the required courses for ultrasound skills development, programs have the option of adding their own requirements based on what the school and program consider important. The courses developed in this arena are included in the sonography core curriculum but are not consistent across programs in terms of course names or content. What is consistent is the fact they recognize the importance of using good judgment and sensitivity on a routine basis while completing job duties.
To become an ultrasound technician, there are certain steps that must be carefully followed to ensure the student chooses the ideal program. During the review of ultrasound programs, students should read through course catalogs to ascertain the program includes the classes of personal interest, like echocardiographic sonography or male reproduction sonography. This is just one step in doing thorough research.
The student will notice the courses with topics that go beyond teaching technical skills. They are concerned with issues like:
- Applying patient skills in a clinical setting
- Developing patient interaction skills under a variety of conditions, including dealing with troublesome people
- Understanding the legal and ethical responsibilities of a sonographer during patient care activities
- Understanding the legal and ethical responsibilities of a sonographer working in a health care environment
- Maintaining personal integrity at all times
- Successfully Interacting with patients and health care professionals who are of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, gender, sexual preferences (LGTB), ages and physical conditions
- Managing language barriers
For example, Methodist College offers a CAAHEP accredited program that is a mix of ultrasound skills development courses and courses focused on other issues like ethics. This particular program includes courses on critical reasoning, applied ethics, the sociology of culture, and language and culture in the healthcare setting. The language course explores the importance of developing and applying cross-cultural communication skills.
Understanding the True Meaning of Multiculturalism
One of the purposes of clinical rotations is to give students the opportunity to work with real patients. During this training, sonography students will learn the true meaning of blending ethical and legal standards with compassion and the true meaning of multiculturalism. According to Dr. Caleb Rosado, a sociologist who is an expert in multiculturalism, the full sense of the word includes recognizing, valuing, respecting, acknowledging, encouraging, empowering and celebrating differences in people. From this perspective, the courses that may not seem directly relevant to ultrasound skills development will convey some of the most important information a person needs to be a successful Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.