"I learned from my mentors to never stop exploring the boundaries and looking forward."

Role Model Photo Steve Trawick

Health Field: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Number of years in the profession:
30 year

Years in College: 9 years

Professional Credentials:

How did you know this career was what you wanted to do?
I knew this career was what I wanted to do because I enjoyed the education process for Sonography.  This is key to any student in any education track.  If you enjoy the education then more than likely you will enjoy the career.

What other careers did you consider?
When I first started college I majored in Pre Vet Medicine with the goal of becoming a Veterinarian.  I actually flunked out of college that first year because I was not as interested in the field as I had thought.

What experiences in your life developed your interest in your career?
I always enjoyed the art of photography.  Medical imaging in some respects is like photography.  I also remembered being X-rayed when I was very young and being shown the films.  I was fascinated by how that process worked.

What early preparations did you take (in high school and college) to reach your career goal?
When I started ultrasound there were only three or four schools in the country offering an education in Sonography.  There were no text books for Sonography, and no real experts in the field at that time since the field was new.  I learned about Sonography while in Radiography school.  Ultrasound was a new imaging modality.  The more I watched the Physician’s train to scan the more interested I became.  Ultrasound allowed the Radiologist to explore the body from a perspective Radiology did not.  I remember the first scan I ever saw and from that moment on I knew I was interested in exploring Sonography.  Today there are many things an individual can do to prepare for a career in Sonography such as shadowing a practicing Sonographer for a day and talking to others in the field.

What things did you find to be difficult as you prepared for your career?
I really experienced no difficulty in preparing for my career.  The field was so new at that time that the greatest challenge I faced first was to locate and then be accepted into a program.  The program I went through only accepted one student a year, and I was lucky enough to be that person.   Once I was in the program the greatest challenge was the depth of material I was required to learn.  Keep in mind there were no text books written about Sonography so I was required to write a considerable number of papers and then translate that information through sonographic images.  A significant part of my education was the research and discovering how to apply that research as a practical application.

How did you overcome these challenges?
I exposed myself to people interested in the health care field, those who were interested in Sonography and were willing to work with me to provide me with their knowledge.

Was your family supportive of you through your college (or other training) years?

Did you have a job and work while you were going to college or other training? Yes

Present Career as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Describe an average work day for you.
I am now teaching Sonography.  When I was a front line Sonographer seeing and scanning patients I don’t believe I ever had an average work day.  Every day was different, every day was exciting, and every day allowed me to have a positive influence on the care of a patient.  A Sonographer can experience very long days, nights and weekends of call, and a large volume of patients to scan.  The thing that keeps most Sonographers going is realizing that every patient they see they will have a positive influence on their care.  I always found the most interesting cases were seen afterhours while on call and didn’t mind the call shifts when it was my turn to take call.Today as an educator I often work 6 days a week and rarely do I have a week with less than 40 hours.

How many hours do you work in an average week?

What kind of health care setting do you work in?
I am the program chair for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Temple College

What do you see as strengths needed for your career?
To be a Sonographer you need to have a desire to continue the learning process the rest of your life, you should enjoy technology, and working with very sick patients.To be an educator I think the ability to explain very complicated concepts to others is one strength any instructor needs.  Another would be patience and the willingness to work with students as they go though the education process to develop their career in Sonography.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
As an educator the most rewarding part of my job is when I see that light go on when the student “gets it”.  It is also rewarding to see students graduate, pass their boards, and become a practicing Sonographer.  I realize their hard work and effort has paid off and as a result they will have a lifelong career in this field, allowing them to build a better life for their family and provide their patients with a high quality of care.As a scanning Sonographer the most rewarding part of my job was to be able to scan a patient and help provide the diagnosis.  The most challenging and most rewarding occurs when you have an unusual case and are able to offer a diagnosis.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in your career?
Those who are interested in becoming a Sonographer should explore the field, talk to people who are practicing Sonographers, visit a school that offers a degree in Sonography, talk to the students in the Sonography program, learn as much as they can about the field before they make the commitment to study Sonography.

If you could start over, would you still make the same decision to pursue education?
If I could start over I would have made the same decision to pursue a career in Sonography but I would have done it much sooner.  I was out of High School three years before I started my education in Sonography.

Do you plan to pursue opportunities for advancement in your career field?
If I was still a practicing Sonographer I would strongly consider additional certifications beyond the five I currently hold.  Now that I am in the educational arena I am exploring options for a Doctorate in Education.

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