Jessica Carlino, RDMS, RVT, is a diagnostic medical sonographer and registered vascular technician in Lancaster Pennsylvania. She graduated from the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences (PA College) in 2011 and is currently pursuing her Health Sciences Bachelor Degree. She anticipates completing this BSHS degree at PA College in May, 2015. Pictured below, Jessica Carlino (left) & PA College graduate Lauren Miller (2008) on the right.
In this interview Carlino shares her experiences studying sonography at PA College and working in the field at Lancaster General Health Physicians Surgical Group and offers some helpful advice on how to be a successful student and sonographer.
USI: What inspired you to enroll in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences?
JC: I always knew I wanted to pursue a job in the medical field. During my senior year of high school, I shadowed a sonographer for a few months and decided that the ultrasound program sounded exciting.
USI: To you what are some of the best features of PA College’s sonography program?
JC: Knowing that you are already accepted into clinical upon being accepted into the program is a wonderful feature. Also, small class sizes help students form a close relationship with their mentors and peers.
USI: What kinds of clinical and hands-on experiences does the program have?
JC: This program will allow you to have hands on experience in the laboratory and clinical settings.
USI: What courses or skills taught in the program were most challenging and what tips can you offer to overcome these challenges?
JC: Anatomy and physiology and the program specific sonography classes were the most challenging because you are forced to learn and retain a lot of information in a short amount of time. Take advantage of open labs and instructor tutoring. Don’t let yourself fall behind. It is better to ask for help when you first notice you don’t understand something, because the professors will continue to progress through the coursework at a fairly quick pace.
USI: What did you find most interesting and rewarding about the program?
JC: The skills that I have acquired from PA College have allowed me to play a direct role in patient care by providing quality diagnostic information that physicians can use to aid them in the treatment of patients.
USI: What traits make someone a successful sonography student and ultimately a successful sonographer?
JC: Successful sonography students should have a strong work ethic and understand how to communicate with others. Sonography is a challenging program, and is a constantly changing profession. Hard work is a trait that both students and professionals need to possess to be successful. Also, sonography is a profession that will be strongly dependent on communication.
Sonographers need to have the ability to thoroughly communicate with patients, physicians, co-workers, and managers. Sonography is a user-dependent test modality, so the outcome of the study is based on the willingness and discipline of the sonographer.
USI: Do you have any final tips for success for prospective students to succeed in a diagnostic medical sonography degree program?
JC: As a student in this program, you need to be dedicated to learning but not too hard on yourself. Sonography is not something that can be learned overnight. Rather, it is a field where you will continue learning for the remainder of your career. While at PA College, focus on learning the fundamentals of scanning and anatomy in order to obtain a strong foundation as you start your career.
USI: Is there anything you would like to add about Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences’ program?
JC: PA College’s program for sonography is unique because it allows students to graduate in two years with clinical and didactic experience. It’s a challenging two years, but the relationships that you form with your classmates are ones that are extremely special. You are all going through this whirlwind of learning at the same time, and you see one another learn and grow together. I know that I would not have succeeded as well as I did in the program without the support of my sonography classmates and professors.
USI: How did the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences program prepare you for the professional world?
JC: PA College prepared me by providing the tools and knowledge to graduate with a strong understanding of the fundamentals of diagnostic medical sonography.
USI: Do you have any tips for success for life after graduation?
JC: I would recommend taking your certification boards soon after graduation. The information is fresh in your mind, and you will become more marketable for jobs if you have those under your belt. Get yourself out there in the job field. Even if you don’t get the perfect job to start, keep an open mind and be receptive to any opportunities that arise.
USI: Where are you working now and what does your position involve?
JC: Currently, I work for a group of surgeons in a private practice that is a part of Lancaster General Health. I perform mostly vascular studies, including peripheral vascular and abdominal vascular exams. I also spend a lot of time scanning in the operating room and providing guidance for the surgeons during vascular, general, and breast surgery. I work alongside Lauren Miller, another graduate of PA College and we are the only sonographers at this practice. Initially after graduating from PA College, I worked at Lancaster General Hospital. I was able to perform all types of ultrasounds including obstetric and gynecologic exams. After working there a few years, I learned that vascular ultrasound was my passion and I found a more specialized job in the field.
I am currently completing my Bachelor’s degree from PA College with an anticipated graduation of May, 2015.
USI: What do you like most about working in your profession?
JC: I am able to see first hand how my services and knowledge provide patients with positive outcomes and important diagnostic information to further facilitate their health care.