It's so much more than the credentials.
The measure of success in ultrasound is not the number of credentials on a technologist's badge or the number of degrees on an administrator's resume. You probably will be surprised at the simplicity of what makes better sonographers.
“I can't use this machine. I have never seen it before.” vs.
"I can use this machine. I just need a moment to review it."
Technologists that are able to adapt to their environment without hesitation and be able to adjust to the equipment, protocols and criteria quickly are often more readily accepted and hired into ultrasound practices.
“Your family member can't come into the exam room." vs.
"Of course. As long as my patient wants you to come in."
Whether it is a husband, wife, mother, daughter, friend, sister, brother, cousin, aunt, or anyone, if the patient wants them by their side during the ultrasound, there should never be a time when the technologist or the administrator prevents that.
There's no valid reason for refusing patients emotional support. Administrative policy? It is possible that an administrator is afraid of liability issues, however, liability generally stems from poor technical performance leading to poor patient outcomes. Technologist preference? It is possible that an incompetent, insecure technologist lacks confidence in their examination skills and doesn't want any witnesses to their exam. Or perhaps they can't concentrate with other people in the room.
The best sonographers make sure that they have what they need to perform the exam, while respecting the patient's requests, including allowing for another person to be in the examination room. Afraid of poor ultrasound results? If a technologist is doing their job, they are not communicating exam results to patients or their guests at any time. The results, whether the guest is in the room or not, will be delivered by a physician. Because there's no information sharing between the technologist and the patient or the patient’s guest, there's no reasonable reason to prevent the guest from sitting with the patient.
#3 EMPATHIC COMMUNICATION
"Don't talk to the patient. They might interrupt you." vs.
"Have you ever had an ultrasound before? How are you?"
The most caring and supportive sonographers and administrators are the ones that can ask a patient how they are doing without fearing their exam will be interrupted. It's not always easy to complete an exam with a talkative patient, but often, through active communication with the patient, there are many benefits.
Many times the patient will inform the technologist the reason why they are getting an ultrasound or what they have been feelings or going through. The best sonographers listen, evaluate and even empathize with the patient.
A patient, for example, says they have been having dizziness for a long time and the order is for a leg scan. That communication is vital to the appropriate exam being performed. Mistakes happen. Communication is a key step in correcting the mistakes. Another benefit is that the communication puts the patient at ease. This is important for many reasons, one of which is that the patient will feel better. Too often patients suffer at the hands of medical professionals that don't care. The best sonographers put there patients at ease. For medical administrators, this reduces liability. Patients with positive experiences are less likely to review the facility in a negative light and may actually review it positively which leads to happier repeat customers.
#2 CONFIDENCE TO ASK FOR HELP
“I didn't scan the tumor in the liver and scanned around it instead because I didn't know what it was.” vs.
"I'm not sure what that is. I should ask the other techs and show the doctor and make sure I get the right images."
Confidence doesn't mean you know everything. It means that you know how to get to the answer. The most important thing is that the diagnosis is found. The best technologists know NORMAL anatomy and physiology thoroughly. This is their platform for knowing what abnormal is. And if they don't know what it is, they aren't afraid to ask for help to find the answer.
The best technologists are confident with their department's ultrasound exam protocols and criteria. They know what images to take, what order to take them in, what to look for when they are taking them, how to document them in gray scale, color and Doppler, how to optimize the images and how to communicate that to the interpreting physician. They are aware of emergent scenarios where the ultrasound must be stopped in order to get the patient the immediate care they need. They are confident in ultrasound criteria in their department along with their interpreting physicians based on published data and findings proving diagnostic accuracy and they actually care about the patient, the facility, their job, their surroundings and do what they can to make sure the system is working smoothly because they are confident in what they do.
#1 WILLINGNESS TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE
“I don't want to take students into my lab. I am too busy and don't have time to teach them.” vs.
"I am happy to take ultrasound students in my department. I can help them learn our techniques and even hire them."
The greatest key to knowing whether or not an ultrasound technologist is qualified, caring, professional, educated and confident, is there willingness to teach what they know.
The greatest key to knowing a good sonography administrator, is their ability to encourage and accept teaching in their department.
The best hospitals in the country are affiliated with educational institutions.
The best educational institutions are affiliated with leading medical facilities.
Those with the ability to continue to learn and to share what they have learned to better the outcomes of patients and increase the knowledge base of the medical community, are the absolute sonographers and sonography administrators that instill better practices.
If you or someone you know fits this criteria, we'd like to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your insight with the world.