One of the interesting facts about starting a sonography program to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer is that mixed emotions are often evoked. There is the excitement of finally starting the program and the recognition that this is a major step towards developing a great career as a health professional. At the same time there is concern as to the best way to emotionally and physically manage the heavy load of classroom and laboratory time plus clinical training.
Balancing the requirements of a sonography program and personal life demands is not always easy. However, there are ways to clear the path of impediments that only seem to serve the purpose of creating anxiety. Ultrasound technology students carry a full load of coursework and clinical training that requires attention from 8-to-5 each day (actual time may vary), but the time commitment does not end when the program day ends. There are homework assignments, special projects and consultations with faculty that are all a natural part of going to school.
A great toll may be taken on the mind and emotional state in the form of anxiety and on the body in the form of fatigue. Feeling graceful may seem a little bit too much to ask of a harried student. However, there are proven strategies for students that can help them balance their student-personal lives with style and grace.
Identify Weaknesses to Overcome During a Sonography Program
The process begins with identifying personal weaknesses in order to identify specific ways to overcome them. For example, some people are not real strong in math so they should consider taking and additional math class. If a student needs maximum time to learn a lot of information, it is wiser to choose a longer CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography program that allows more time to master the program content.
Following are some strategies for managing the sonography program with grace:
Master weaknesses – Students may need to improve their reading, learn time management or develop better study habits. The same community college or university where the sonography program is located is likely to have a variety of programs and tools students can access.
Allot “Me Time” – Everyone needs time to themselves to reflect or just unwind. Set aside time each week to regroup and enjoy life.
Take online and on-campus courses – Some of the stress of balancing personal life and student life can be relieved by taking a mix of online and on-campus courses. Many prerequisite courses and some sonography program courses are available online at most colleges and universities. There are also two online CAAHEP accredited online Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs at Washburn University (Topeka, KS) and Jackson College (Jackson, MI).
Learn to plan and prioritize activities – It is stressful to try and fit too much into one day or even a week when school and family obligations collide. It is important to keep the family informed of sonography program requirements and schedule family events on off days or days when the requirements are light. Most programs indicate clinical training will occur Monday through Friday, so planning family celebrations for weekends would be best. Look ahead week-to-week and identify mandatory requirements first, and then decide how to manage personal activities. That usually means asking friends and family for help.
Cater to a personal learning style – Some sonography students need to study several hours a day in a quiet room with no television or cell phones on. Other people learn best in a buddy-system in which two or more students study together. Determine how learning best takes place and cater to it.
Stay current on school work – It is critical to not fall behind in the coursework because catching up is too difficult and can negatively impact clinical training. Savvy students will review their lectures notes each day and stay current on homework. Read the class syllabus and look ahead for upcoming assignments.
Maintain a positive attitude – Diagnostic Medical Sonographers are professionals who deliver critical health services. They enjoy fascinating careers working with a variety of young and old people who depend on their professionalism and training. While in sonography school, it is a good time to practice maintaining a positive attitude while working under stress.
Take care of the body – During clinical training, students are required to do a lot of physical labor assisting patients and managing the equipment. The physical labor coupled with the normal stress of attending a higher education facility can be fatiguing. It is important to maintain an exercise program and to eat healthy.
Being aware of the stresses associated with balancing school and personal life is important. Students can plan ahead to succeed by taking control of time through awareness and scheduling. At the end of the journey is waiting a great career as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.