Professionalism in the Field of Sonography

Jeff Jewell, RDCS What Does Professionalism Mean In The Field of Sonography.jpg

Jeff is a clinical instructor in Pediatric Sonography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He holds specialties in Adult Echo and Pediatric Echo.

"Stay professional."  "Let's practice some professionalism." "That's not professional attire."  As sonographers, we are always being reminded to be, act, and look professional.  The problem is that my definition of professionalism for a sonographer may be different from your definition of professionalism, and there doesn't seem to be a standard.  So, let's begin defining what we mean by professionalism and share it with our sonography community.

After many conversations with my colleagues about what constitutes "professionalism" in our field and what it means to the team with whom we work, I came up with a list of behaviors about which we all agree. After you read my "Top 10," please share your reactions and additional suggestions with ARDMS at volunteer@ardms.org. Your thoughts will be added to the list and we can keep the conversation going.

1. Keep the environment clean. 
From the waiting area to the sonography room, clutter and dirty linen show a lack of commitment to the patient's safety and indifference for the patient as a customer.​

2. Dress appropriately.
The patient gets an impression of us the moment we walk into the room. The way we present ourselves, including our clothing and appearance, sends a message to the patient about our level of competence before we've spoken a single word. 

3.  Greet patients in a courteous manner. 
I have seen too many sonographers greet their patients as if they were serving customers at the DMV.  Everyone has a right to be treated with kindness and respect.  A smile and polite description of what you will be doing goes a long way at putting people at ease.

4. Focus your attention.
Our goal is to provide great care to every patient.  We can't do that if we haven't listened actively to what our patient or another staff member is telling us.  So, be completely present in the moment and reply to texts or personal calls after the patient has left.


5. Exude confidence. 
Stand straight, look people in the eyes while speaking, and try to keep hand gestures to a minimum. 

6.  Communicate your expertise… 
Many of us are technical experts in the field of sonography and know how it relates to the bigger picture of medicine. Share this expertise with physicians and staff by explaining a complex study when appropriate. You will usually find that your opinions are appreciated and valued.

7. …and Learn from others. 
When we are open to really listening to our coworkers' ideas, we can expand our knowledge of the field and learn new ways of working more efficiently. 

8. Mentor new sonographers.  
How many of us began our careers wishing we had someone on the job willing to teach and guide us?  Be that teacher. Choose to mentor new practitioners and answer their questions.  They will grow in their skills and, consequently, provide better patient care. Mentoring others also reflects well on us by demonstrating that we have a good grasp of not only sonography but also how it relates to all of medicine.

9. Abide by a set of morals.
Honesty, integrity, and compassion seem to cover the basics.

10. Demonstrate humility. 
Everyone makes mistakes.  How we accept responsibility for our mistakes and deal with the consequences show our true character.