Tips and advice for starting your ultrasound course

Tips to start your sonography journey

  1. Study, study, study
    It might sound obvious, but you will need to do a lot of studying. There is A LOT to learn. So whilst right at the beginning of your journey, try to do a bit every day and it will pay dividends later.
  2. Practice exam question books and sites are your friend
    There are many great sites out there in varying shapes and sizes. Quizlet, for example, offers a very reasonably priced solution to learn and benefit from the thousands of questions and answers hosted on there covering all specialities including SPI. Testing yourself from early on allows you to understand the gaps in your knowledge and learn interesting facts on the way without having to spend hours staring into a textbook.
  3. Barge your way to scan time
    Ask to scan as much as possible, some places are busy but there should be enough time for a few minutes with each patient. It’s better be known for the being the person that was always asking to scan rather than one that never wanted to scan. Sometimes being too polite can be mistaken for being lazy or disinterested.
  4. Have fun and enjoy the ride
    Sonography is fun. Yes, it’s difficult but it’s also interesting. See inside people’s bodies should be of interest to you, that’s why you chose the profession. So roll your proverbial sleeves up and get stuck in. You will have an amazing journey with some amazing people and there will be time for fun along the way. Try your best and enjoy the ride.
  5. Take something away from each day
    Try to learn something new every day, even if it’s a small thing. If you feel that you haven’t learned anything all day, then make a point to go home and learn at least one fact when you go home that night. You can also follow us on social medial for our idea of the day (#USideaoftheday) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  6. Be kind
    Compassion goes further than you know. Be kind to your patients and remember that you may be the only person that they talk to that day. Your short time with a patient might just be the only time that day they have had any meaningful conversation. So, a few kind words can go a long way. Plus, you never know what you’re going to hear!
  7. Start off on the right foot (pun intended)
    Use good ergonomics – it is very easy to focus in seeing that kidney or reaching a bit further and, when you’re training, there is a tendency to forget about ergonomics. A good mentor should constantly remind of this. If you build a solid foundation of good ergonomics from the start this should last you a lifetime. If you start off on the wrong foot then you’re scanning career may just be cut short. See our ergonomics section for helpful hints and tips.
  8. Learn to meditate
    Training can be stressful. And staring at a PC screen or scan monitor all day in reduced lighting isn’t good for you. So why not use your new career to learn a new skill – meditation. Set off from work ten minutes earlier and send 5-10 minutes each morning doing quiet meditation in your car. What better way to start your day, feeling calm and relaxed and ready for action. And if there’s traffic or other problem on the way you’ll have set off earlier which will reduce the stress of being late.  There are many free and paid for app on smartphones, so arrive early plug in your headphones and begin your day in the right mind-set. Just remember to set an alarm so you don’t fall asleep and be late for work!
  9. Learn on the move
    There are many educational podcasts and videos (Youtube/Vimeo etc) with useful ultrasound lectures etc out there to learn from. So study while on the move to save you time at night. If you spend commute 1-2 hours commuting a day that is potentially 5-10 hours a week of study time which may mean less to do when you get home giving you more time to relax. Most cars have Bluetooth these days so you can set it up and leave it to play while you drive.  Just make sure to leave your smartphone on the seat and not to look at it while driving.
  10. Buy yourself a notebook
    Buy a little notebook that you keep on you at times. You’ll told hundreds of useful nuggets of information that you’ll quickly forget with the sensory overload of the learning process. But wish you hadn’t. If you write any helpful tips or notes in a notebook, then re-read the notes for a few minutes at the end of the week you will learn them much better and retain the information for longer. So treat yourself and spend your pocket change on a nice little notebook – and treasure it. When you come to sit your exams you you’ll be grateful. And you’ll have it to look back over any time you want.
  11. Record your lectures
    Record lectures and listen to them again on way home. If you don’t want to waste storage space on your phone most phones have the ability to record just audio which uses a fraction of the storage space compared with video. You’ll hear extra information that you missed the first time around when you were tired or distracted. And they will be there for you any time you want.
  12. Scan as though you mean it
    Remember to look right through the anatomy rather than just focus on getting that perfect image. Student sonographers have a tendency to try to capture the perfect image rather than scanning with meaning. Sometime in the not too distant future you will be on your own. It’s a good habit to get into to scan right through an organ and make sure you’re happy before you start taking representative images.
  13. Appreciate the benefits of case studies
    A big part of ultrasound is pattern recognition. Comparing what you’re seeing to what you’ve seen before and what it looks like in books. It’s impossible to see every pathology while you’re studying, but case study websites can help you to develop you pattern recognition quicker because in reality things never quite look as perfect as they do in textbooks.  Ultrasoundcases.info is a great place to start.

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