≡ Menu

Interview with Sonographer, Author and Program Director Yonella Demars, PhD RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn, PS) RVT

Sonographer, Author and Program Director Yonella Demers, MSRS RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn, PS) RVT

Yonella Demars has been a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer for over nine years. She has a BS and Master’s degree in Radiologic Sciences and is currently in the candidacy phase of a Radiation Science PhD degree.

Her interest is burnout and organizational commitment among sonographers in the U.S.  She is also an author and entrepreneur of SONONOTES, a platform that she uses to educate students, sonographers, and/or her peer educators in topics that relate to sonography.  SONONOTES also provide annual scholarship opportunities for students and sonographers to aid in paying for registry examination fees.

Ms. Demars is currently the program director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography bachelor program that is scheduled to begin Fall of 2019.

Tell us about “SONONOTES”.

The business is called SONONOTES, the first guide that was published under SONONOTES was the Pediatric Sonography Study Guide. I am working toward getting SONONOTES to become a source that offers ultrasound study guides, mock exams, retail items, and educator resources.

SONONOTES also provide students and/or sonographers with registry scholarships yearly. This year we did not have anyone to apply. I’m hopeful however that the more the word is spread about SONONOTES the more scholarship applicants I know we will have in the future.

The study guide is 128 pages from cover to cover which includes 16 chapters, a quick reference pathology table, 242 images, a 100 question post-test, and it offers the opportunity for customers who successfully pass the post-test to be awarded 10 SDMS CMEs.

What did you find most challenging about the project?

Creating the post-test questions and formatting the guide was most challenging. I had no clue on how to format a book, just a college term paper. Let’s not talk too much about how to effectively write a test question. That’s for another interview (laughs). The most rewarding things about this project was when it went to production, my first sale, and my first customer review.

I understand you were also a contributing author for an ultrasound textbook. Can you tell us about that?

Yes, my manager at the time introduced me to Reva Curry, the author of Sonography Introduction to Normal Structure and Function, who was looking for contributing authors for her 4th edition textbook. I was assigned the Biliary chapter which I felt shouldn’t be too hard since I viewed this anatomy as a sonographer practically every day. I am currently also a contributing author for her 5th edition that will be published in the near future.

Congratulations on your past “Clinical Preceptor of the Year Award”! Can you share something about that experience with us?

I did not know I had the gift of teaching until I was encouraged to accept students during my night shifts as a sonographer.

My manager saw something in me that made her always say “You should be a teacher”. My response would always be “uh, no” (laughs). I enjoyed showing people things and training new hires but I wasn’t sure about teaching.

I enjoyed sharing information that helped me as a sonographer. I also found ways to make students feel comfortable learning. Whether that was a quiz, verbal questions that made them take what they had learned from their instructors and apply it in the clinical setting, repetitive conversations about pathologies, or assisting them with writing preliminary reports the “shorthand way”.

I remember creating a Jeopardy board that I taped to one of our ultrasound room walls for one of my students. He was really excited about that approach to learning. After a couple of students had rotated with me I began to get phone calls from other students that wanted to experience a clinical rotation with me.

I did not know the true impact that I had on students and their instructors until I received the “Clinical Preceptor of the year award”. I was blessed to have been recognized and to have received this award.

As a teacher, what sort of pitfalls do you see students falling into that can hinder their academic success?

Technology–Social media, video games, and cell phones have a strong presence in the 21st century. Students have to be determined to achieve academic success and they have to master prioritizing their time to do so.

Thinking back to when you started your career, where did you think it was going to lead you?

I thought I was going to be a traveling sonographer or an ultrasound manager with multiple registries.

Did you have a mentor or influencer early on in your Sonography career?

I had several. Professionally I had my instructor; Myka Bussey-Campbell (DMS program coordinator at Georgia Southern University), Dr. Rochelle Lee (Nuclear Medicine program coordinator at Georgia Southern University), Dr. Elwin Tilson (previous department head of Armstrong Atlantic State University’s Radiologic Science Department and currently professor of  Radiologic and Imaging Sciences at California State University Dominguez Hills), and my manager Peggy Bizjak.

Personally I had my husband and 2 friends, Helene and Jennifer, who encouraged me spiritually. Collectively all my mentors or influencers understood my potential and encouraged me in more ways than they know. I am happy to have had them in my life whether it was for a season or years.

Can you describe a time when you had a measurable impact on the life of a patient?

One that I can remember is performing CPR on a lady that had collapsed in the restroom at an ultrasound event that I had attended. I didn’t think much of it until 10 members of her family made a surprise visit to my job days later and presented me with a thank you card and hugs.

Later I was able to meet her as a sonographer but she didn’t know who I was or what I had done for her (tears and smiles). I would say that impacted her life and the life of her family.

I want to mention that by me having a past employment history of being a patient care technician and certified nurse assistant I have impacted the lives of all my patients. My patient care experience prior to becoming a sonographer really excelled and molded the care that I promised to provide to my patients as a sonographer.

During my sonography career I have purchased toys for a pediatric patient, magazines for a young adult transplant patient, listened to the “crazy” patient (at least that’s what he said people thought of him), polished the toes of a geriatric transplant patient, and bathed a homeless urine soiled patient.

Exceptional patient care to me is more impactful than saving a life from performing CPR. I say this because you will rarely be required or given the opportunity to perform live saving CPR as a sonographer BUT you will very well get a whole lot of opportunities to provide exceptional patient care to every patient. My name is Yonella Demars and I am an exceptional patient care provider!

Who did you/do you have as a role model in your career?

I didn’t necessarily have a role model. However after meeting Dr. Kevin Evans, the JDMS editor-in-chief, at a recent ultrasound conference and reading his biography I would like to model the research and publishing career path that he has taken in his career. So, Kevin Evans if you are reading this I would like to work on a research project with you in the future.

What accomplishment would you consider to be most important to the success of your career?

Obtaining multiple registries, particularly those that are related to courses that I would like to teach. I would also like to finish school and obtain my PhD in Radiation Sciences. I have a strong desire to do research in the sonography profession.

As a Sonographer, what sort of trends do you see in the field?

Work related injuries, contrast ultrasound imaging, and multi-disciplinary approaches to patient care.

What suggestion would you give aspiring sonographers to best prepare for these future trends?

Inherit best practices to scanning techniques, increase proper utilization of ergonomic equipment, attend conferences or subscribe to ultrasound journals that would keep them informed of current trends in sonography like fusion imaging, elastography, and ultrasound contrast imaging.

If you weren’t a Sonographer, what would you be doing instead?

I would be a perfusionist or a radiologist.

Is there something we might be surprised to know about you?

As an ultrasound student, I traveled to Guyana, South America with other radiologic science students. We performed ultrasounds, x-rays, and mammograms on citizens that had walked miles to receive free imaging. It was a huge eye-opening experience. I hope to start my own ultrasound missions before I leave this world.

Yonella Demars in Guyana

Ms. Demars (1st row, 2nd from right) and the team from Project Dawn in Guyana

What would you like future Sonographers to know about the field?

We are an important part of imaging departments. We are the first to interact with fetuses, we know what cancer looks like, we know when a patient has appendicitis, a torsed testicle, or in the process of miscarriage.

We are story tellers that use images to create a beginning, middle, and an end. We work hard to create each story no matter how big or small. We are essential medical professionals that have the “eye” for everything!

Anything else you would like to add?

I’m happy to announce that I am the ultrasound director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s newly created Bachelors of Science ultrasound program which is set to begin in August 2019. Visit  https://radsci.chp.vcu.edu/ in the future for more information.

Sonographer, Author and Program Director Yonella Demers, MSRS RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn, PS) RVT

Yonella Demars, PhD, RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn, PS) RVT

Mrs. Demars a is registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer with a masters in Radiologic Science from Midwestern State University. Her first year as an ultrasound clinical preceptor she was awarded “Clinical Preceptor of the Year”.

She holds membership with the SDMS and ASRT organizations. She is currently pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Radiation Sciences with the goal of becoming a globally known professor of ultrasound.

She has experience in teaching online Imaging Pathology and Radiologic Science Management courses.

Connect on LinkedIn

If you’d like to learn more about opportunities in sonography, check out some of our other inspiring interviews:

  • Traveling Sonographer – Interview with Dave Felix, traveling sonographer and owner of SonoTemps
  • Author of Sonographers Blog – Tom Whelan, a true pioneer in the field, in this two-part interview
  • The Heart of It – Stephanie Eisler, RDMS, asks “Can you find a way to be there for the patient in their time of need?”
Ultrasound Physics: How To Master The Challenging Concepts

Ultrasound Physics: How To Master The Challenging Concepts

Candice Sellers, B.S., RDMS – Contributor Students attending ultrasound school consistently report that ultrasound physics is one of the most difficult courses in their program. It’s a required course and one that is important to master. Below you will find study tips and tools available to students to help them focus and hone in on How I Mastered Ultrasound Physics

Tips For Avoiding Musculoskeletal Injuries in Sonographers

Tips For Avoiding Musculoskeletal Injuries in Sonographers

By Adrienne Hardy, RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn) – Contributor According to the SDMS, 90% of sonographers will sustain a work related musculoskeletal disorder; 20% will have a career ended because of the injury. With numbers this high it seems like it’s an inescapable truth that you must scan in pain or get injured at some point, Most Common Injuries in Sonographers

Surviving and Thriving in Sonography School

Surviving and Thriving in Sonography School

By Adrienne Hardy, RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn) – Contributor As I sat in my entrance interview for sonography school the professors spattered me with questions: “Do you have enough savings? What is your home like? How do you manage your time? Do you have someone who cares about your success and will support you in hard Surviving and Thriving in Sonography School

Interview with Sonographer Carlos Reveles, RDMS

Interview with Sonographer Carlos Reveles, RDMS

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Carlos Reveles, a high risk Ob/Gyn sonographer.  In this interview, Carlos shares with us what led to him being recently recognized as a standout sonographer by his employer, and what it’s like being a male in a traditionally female field.  Welcome Carlos! Hello my Name is Carlos Explore Carlos’s Sonography Journey

Passing the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation Exam

Tips on Passing the SPI

Adrienne Hardy, RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn) – Contributor I clicked submit on the SPI physics exam and ran out the the room. The test proctor handed me a piece of paper with a huge scared looking picture of myself taken before the exam, my ARDMS number and the results of my SPI examination. My hand shook as Passing the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation Exam

Stressed Sonography Student

How To Manage The Stress of Ultrasound School

Candice Sellers, B.S., RDMS – Contributor The Ultrasound School Experience Ultrasound school is a very exciting and rewarding experience. The excitement of finally reaching your goal of getting accepted into an accredited ultrasound program is certainly a tremendous milestone! However, there will be moments of frustration and stress that will occur during your journey in How I Managed Stress While in My Sonography Program