We headed north to Canada to speak to British Columbia-based sonographer Tatym Schneider.
We first learned about Tatym upon discovering her blog, SmartSonographer.com, which seeks to share ultrasound knowledge and inspire sonographers to excel in their profession. Tatym is not only a writer and an ARDMS-certified/Canadian Registered Sonographer (CRS), but she’s also a digital artist and world traveler. In this interview, she shares some intriguing details about her profession and her eclectic life, but also offers advice to aspiring ultrasound technologists.
USI: What inspired you to become a sonographer and how did you become one?
TS: Originally my reasons for becoming a sonographer were purely practical. I was 30, becoming disillusioned with my current career and struggling to find rewarding work. So I began contemplating going back to school to begin a whole new career path.
After a great deal of reflection, and because I was entering into my second career, I decided I was looking for something that was in a growing field, paid well and would require less than four years of education. I also wanted something that let me work more closely with people, encouraged ongoing learning and had the possibility of flexible hours.
After a few months of research I found the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program through BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). It seemed like a great fit and they were currently accepting applications, so I scoured their prerequisite list, signed up for a few night courses to upgrade my math and physics and sent in my application with my fingers crossed.
USI: What have been some of the highlights of your ultrasound career so far?
TS: Honestly, when I sit down to think about that, I find that there are many highlights and rewards to my career. But if I had to pick the top two they would be teaching and starting a website.
Being a clinical instructor for a sonography student was the first time I had actively taught, and it’s one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done – I just love it. I would never have learned how much I enjoyed teaching if I had not had the opportunity to help students as part of my job as a sonographer.
As for running a website, putting myself out there as a sonography blogger and connecting with people has been a huge source of motivation and education. It makes me feel as though I am helping to contribute to the body of sonography knowledge in the world. I love sharing interesting information about sonography and encouraging others to be excited about what we do. It’s awesome!
USI: What led you to starting the SmartSonographer site?
TS: Within my first year of working as a sonographer, I took a six-month leave to travel. I decided I wanted something to help keep my new sonography skills sharp while I was not working, so I started looking around online to see what resources I could access. But I couldn’t find much. So, inspired by what I had found in the vast and supportive online nursing community, I created an informational and motivational ultrasound resource for myself, the SmartSongrapher website.
After returning from traveling I found that I still enjoyed blogging about ultrasound and decided to keep going with it. I hoped, and I still hope, to continue to connect with people interested in ultrasound, and to be a useful and motivating resource to new techs in the field.
USI: In your blog post “The Single Most Important Quality of a Great Sonographer,” you talk about curiosity. Have you always been a curious person?
TS: Yes, most definitely. But my curiosity has also been a thing that I have cultivated over the years. It’s grown as I have and as I’ve found more things to interest me. I think that curiosity is a form of self growth, and that to stay curious is to be interested in the work we do, the people we interact with, the relationships that we cultivate, the skills that we develop and the world we live in. It’s life at its very core.
USI: As a world traveler, what has been your favorite travel destination so far and why?
TS: My favorite travel destination so far has been Istanbul, Turkey, an incredibly beautiful and complex city straddling the European and Asian continents. I’ve been there twice in the last few years and loved the immersive experience of the languages, the delicious food, the Bosphorus strait, the way that the modern city has melded with ancient architecture and the incredible history that the area has had throughout the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires. It’s an amazingly diverse and interesting city, always flexing to fit the needs of the current time, always growing and becoming more than it was before. Recently the city has seen a lot of violence and civil uprising so it’s not safe for travelers, but I truly look forward to being able to return there one day and enjoy the city once more.
USI: What else is on your bucket list, personal and professional?
TS: Personally, I’m making plans to drive all the way across Canada, from west coast to east, attempt to ski every mountain in British Columbia (where I currently live), spend a month in Thailand, and learn German for a future trip to Germany.
Professionally, I plan to keep expanding the SmartSonography website, teach more, participate in a sonography conference (I would love to lecture), and try out working in the ultrasound field in another country. I’m also working on a project to help sonographers maximize their income while working more flexibly within their field. I’m very excited about it, but it’s still in the works.
USI: If you could give advice to someone considering an ultrasound career, what would you say?
TS: Oh gosh, there’s so much that can be said. But I would definitely begin by checking out UltrasoundSchoolsInfo.com and my blog SmartSonographer.com. Drop us a note and tell us who you are and what you’re looking for. Share the knowledge you’ve learned so far with others. Spend some time checking out the online ultrasound community and connect with us. We love to hear from people interested in our field.
USI: Is there anything you would like to add?
TS: I am very happy to have had the opportunity to contribute to the UltrasoundSchoolsInfo website. Keep up the great work sharing all this great information. Sonography is such a quickly growing, information-intensive field, it’s great to meet others who are learning and growing! Keep up the great work!
To learn more about Tatym Schneider and about the field of ultrasound, check out her blog at www.smartsonographer.com