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 times?” As I answered I began to wonder my own question…What am I getting into?
There is no question sonography school is super tough. The experience tests your intelligence, emotional reserves, perseverance and competence. Many of my peers have told me it’s the single hardest thing they’ve ever done. Even with great coping mechanisms it can push you to the edge of your limits. However, it CAN be successfully accomplished and will feel like a great achievement. There are a few tips that can help your school experience be slightly more comfortable and that sonographers on my journey shared with me, and I’m so glad they did!
First, find a classmate with similar goals and study habits as you and LINK UP.
As they say in Finding Nemo, “do you have your exit buddy?” I don’t know how I would have survived without a peer in the program! Someone who you study with, share notes, explain to each other, and at times just hold each other back from quitting. It is so vital to have a friend experiencing what you are because most family and friends outside your program won’t understand the vigor you are going through even if they try.
Having an emotional and intellectual support will be important because there may be times you want to quit, and having a person there to talk you down from the cliff edge is so worth it. Just make sure you return the favor; most times I also found that my lowest point was different than my friend so we could encourage each other. We also understood different concepts and could explain to each other for deeper understanding.
Second, get a planner. Seriously, go to your nearest store and buy one right now.
There will be a lot of prioritizing what is important to get done for that day, hour or minute. Assignments come fast and between papers, tests, clinical hours and maybe even working a job on the side it can be difficult to stay on top of everything. Having it all written out takes the burden off the mental space needed to remember when something is due and maybe letting another thing fall through the cracks.
Next, studying! I found having a neutral space to study was key in being able to get anything done.
Especially studying for the board exams or the larger tests, you need to be away from everything and the best place to do that is away from where you won’t know anyone or have to worry about any other responsibilities. This helps free your mind to only be occupied with studying and focusing on what you are there for.
My study buddy and I would rent an air b and b for weekends before finals week to really dig in deep without distraction of family, friends or even work. Everyone knew we were unplugged and unreachable for those 2 days. And we knew that it was set up ahead of time so everyone could manage without us. We would make a plan for studying that weekend and make study guides of the most important information.
Lastly, the support system is important.
If you can, try and impress on your family and friends that the next few years of going through school and starting a job are going to be tough. They probably won’t really understand completely or know how to help so be really clear about asking for what you need and when you need it. Whether it’s a phone call to vent, a few dollars for a coffee or someone to keep your phone away from you while you’re studying, I found there is usually someone who wants you to succeed and is willing to help if they know how.
Don’t be afraid to ask! Nobody can do this alone and you shouldn’t try if at all possible. Try and have a few therapist visits throughout the program too, if nothing else to check in. Most colleges offer a few visits per year with a counselor for free to help with mental health. As much money as you can save before your program begins will also alleviate the financial stresses and the need to work while in the program. It is possible to work some, but I don’t think I would recommend working more than 15 hours a week.
Most importantly, remember WHY you wanted this so badly. If you have worked hard enough to get into a sonogrophy program you have already gone through a significant amount so hold onto WHY you are there and what is important to you. Dream big and don’t let WHY you want this fade. It will be so worth it once you are done! Happy scanning!
If you’d like to learn more about opportunities in sonography, check out some of our other inspiring interviews and articles:
- Should I study sonography? Advice from Ultrasound Professors
- Anatomy & Physiology: A Student’s Perspective – Is an Anatomy & Physiology class in your future? Here’s some real life advice, from a fellow student who’s been there.
- An Interview With Sonographer Dr. Traci Fox EdD, RT(R), RDMS, RVT
- Why I Chose Diagnostic Medical Sonography – Join Sonography Student & Contributor Lynn on her journey as she pursues a 2nd career as a sonographer.