Students that are exposed to externships such as Mount Sinai have a clear picture of what the life of a sonographer working in a hospital is like. And this is a very valuable part of ultrasound education.
The CURE Center provides quality ultrasound education that includes hands-on training at CURE as well as participation in sites off campus with clinical affiliates. The affiliation between the school and Mount Sinai Medical Center has allowed students to gain valuable experience doing scans, learning different techniques and being exposed to advanced ultrasound procedures. While there are several ultrasound schools that maintain clinical affiliations, Mount Sinai offers outstanding benefits that are not found elsewhere.
A Commitment to High-Quality Clinical Experience
Having an affiliation with Mount Sinai means that students are able to gain exposure to vascular surgical procedures, such as venous ablation, and other advanced procedures, which they would not have at other schools. As one of the biggest and oldest teaching hospitals in the U.S., Mount Sinai has provided an exceptional learning environment for ultrasound students over the years.
The affiliation between the CURE Center and Mount Sinai means that students are working with technologists and surgeons at a high-ranking hospital. Mount Sinai is among the top hospitals recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Hospitals Honor Roll for 2017-2018. Students who come to Mount Sinai for clinical experience in ultrasound technology have the ability to observe and even scan during a wide range of procedures compared to students from other schools, providing them with a more comprehensive learning experience that they will need for their career. In fact, Alexis Palm, lead vascular technologist at Mount Sinai, explains that Dr. Rami Tadros focuses more on arterial procedures, including aortic bypasses, while Dr. Daniel Han's focus is more on venous procedures, such as ablations. Through this affiliation, students end up with a more in-depth understanding of ultrasound technology in addition to gaining hands-on experience.
Exceptional Education and Experience for Students
Being able to work directly with doctors and other trained medical professionals at Mount Sinai provides CURE Center students with opportunities to learn different protocols and use different equipment. Sarah Moffatt, a student at the CURE Center, spoke about the experience she has gained from these opportunities. Although she is still learning certain aspects of ultrasound technology, such as documenting pathology, she feels confident about being able to determine immediately if there is anything abnormal on scans. Moffatt also appreciates “being able to train and get a job without having a college degree,” which has opened up more employment opportunities for her while allowing her to put the skills she has learned to use.
Working with trained professionals at Mount Sinai has provided Moffatt with more in-depth experience than students in ultrasound programs at other schools. Students at other schools often have limited experience doing scans when no clinical affiliations are present. These students do scans on one another, but they miss out on the opportunity to work with trained professionals in the field and practice using different types of ultrasound scanning equipment. Students at the CURE Center do not miss out on these opportunities, resulting in a richer and more rewarding education.
Learning to Love the Field
Rina Yijae, a vascular technologist at Mount Sinai, discussed her own experience as a student who was able to work with clinicians and doctors. Yijae credits this experience with helping her gain confidence in her abilities to scan patients. In fact, she was unexpectedly left on her own to scan a patient while she was still a student. Despite having initial doubts, she was able to overcome them and focus on putting her knowledge and skills to use.
Palm talked about the unique opportunities students have to work in the field rather than being limited to classroom experience only. She believes that hands-on experience gives CURE Center students a chance to learn to love the field in order to create interest. When students have this interest, it inspires them to continue learning and improving their skills. It also helps them develop a passion for the work they will be doing in ultrasound technology. Palm emphasizes that this interest cannot be created when students only learn in a classroom environment.
Palm also talked about the value of being able to get accustomed to working with different technologists and doctors while also learning different styles through the affiliation between the CURE Center and Mount Sinai. As she explains, “If you stick with one tech, you’re really not opening the doors to see all the other opportunities.” Palm considers clinical experience a necessary part of education and training for students. This experience helps students prepare for employment in the field and offers them a chance to practice a wide range of scans.
Sharing Knowledge and Inspiration
The affiliation between the CURE Center and Mount Sinai doesn’t just benefit students. It also provides important benefits for trained professionals. Dr. Rami Tadros, medical advisor and vascular surgeon at Mount Sinai, believes having students around to ask questions encourages trained technologists to pause and think about the way they approach their work and the methods they use. It’s easy for professionals to fall into a routine, but interacting with students “keeps everyone engaged, and it keeps everyone learning.”
Dr. Tadros also explains that these interactions force professionals “to remember things that you’ve learned at some point in time and have forgotten.” This provides doctors and technologists with a chance to revisit concepts and techniques they have previously learned about and stay up-to-date on any changes or advancements that have occurred.
Palm discussed the benefits of working with students as well during her interview. In addition to helping trained technologists understand procedures better by answering questions, she strongly believes that “you should be humble and remember where you came from” when it comes to sharing knowledge with students. Palm described how some professionals are reluctant to share as much as possible with students out of concern that these students might take their job some day. However, she points out that not holding back knowledge is in a professional’s best interests, since these students could end up being the ultrasound techs that scan professionals or their family members some day.
Nussbaumer also recognizes the importance that a clinical affiliation between the CURE Center and Mount Sinai has for students and professionals. As she explains, this affiliation inspires professionals “to think in a different way and breaks up the monotony and keeps it fresh and new” while also helping students learn through hands-on experience.
Preparing for a Professional Career
Students at the CURE Center who work with doctors and technologists at Mount Sinai end up being in a better position to gain employment shortly after they finish their training and education. Nussbaumer states that students have “exposure to what they need in order to go out and help the next doctor and help the next patient.” Employers often look for a certain amount of experience when deciding whether or not to hire ultrasound technologists. Those who have gained this experience by working with different technologists and doctors and performing a variety of scans on different equipment are in a stronger position when it comes to finding employment.
Nussbaumer explains that “I don’t want students to be lucky. I want them to be ready.” In fact, she states that around 300 students have been able to successfully find employment after completing their education and training at the CURE Center due to having clinical experience. Employers are more eager to hire those who have had hands-on experience in the field already rather than those who only have experience in the classroom and limited experience with scanning.
The affiliation between the CURE Center and Mount Sinai has been a rewarding and beneficial one for both students and trained professionals. Those who have been part of this affiliation look forward to continuing to share knowledge, provide valuable experience and inspire a love of learning in the field.