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Transitioning from Ultrasound School to the Workplace

Adrienne Hardy, RDMS

What to expect as you transition from DMS student to the medical imaging workplace.

In this two-part series, sonographer Adrienne Hardy helps students transition from the daily structure of an ultrasound program to choosing and thriving in the right workplace.

Congratulations! You ran the marathon of Sonography school and now have gotten a job! What a relief, right? All the pent up anxiety and pressure of ultrasound school feels let off like a pressure valve as soon as you are handed that diploma. What happens now as you step into the workplace?

First, if you can, take a few weeks off before starting your job. The nonstop of school, the never-ending deadlines and sleepless nights have left you at empty and starting a new job in that state of mind will lead to burnout. You want to give your new workplace your all and if you are only running at 50 percent this will not be the case.

Take a getaway. I always recommend going into nature of some type, but if nothing else, just change your scenery. It will help put distance between school and your workplace as a clean fresh start. The temptation of me and most of my classmates was to volunteer for all shifts and work the most time possible in pursuit of a paycheck. Just remember, money is important but the balance for your body and mind is just as important.

One of the best things a sonographer told me was how you can work hard and see a few extra dollars in your paycheck but there gets to be a time when other things are more important than the extra money. So take care of yourself.

Which leads me to my second point, you may experience some feelings of mixed emotions. You are moving into a wonderful career and making money and getting to help people like you wanted, but this is something you have worked toward for years and all the sudden it faces you.

It’s a team effort so most sonographers want to help because it makes the exams of the whole team stronger.

This can be a bit of a shock to the system. That’s totally okay. You are leaving the soft security of school and facing the patients as the one doing the exams. It’s scary. It’s intense. You will feel weird things. But remember how far you have come and how capable you can be by applying yourself. It will be okay. Do your best by your patents everyday and you will sleep at night.

Starting your new job, FULLY expect there will be a regression period. You will second guess if you remember all you learned and if you even know what you are doing. Your times may get slower. It is important to link up with someone at your workplace who you can ask questions of and have a mentor relationship.

It’s a team effort so most sonographers want to help because it makes the exams of the whole team stronger. Who knows! One day you may be scanning their brother or mother so it is important to be your best, and usually at least one person you work with will know that.

Don’t feel less than the sonographers who have been doing this for years, just see every day as an opportunity to grow and be a little better. But if you are told something new, take it to heart and learn it quickly, they will not allow much hand holding in the work environment.

Something I have implemented, at the end of each day instead of dwelling on what I did wrong I look at one improvement I made and celebrate it as a victory. This way you will see something good instead of only the mess ups.

The gap between your school experience and your work life may not match what you expected. Movies, tv shows, and our imaginations give us an impression of what it will be like to work in healthcare.

Sometimes the expectation may not match the reality but try to have patience, stay curious and always learning, have mercy with yourself and how you feel. Change can be hard but if you embrace the new faces around you and the new chances to grow yourself, it can be rewarding and fulfilling.

Adrienne Hardy, RDMS

Adrienne Hardy, RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn)

Adrienne Hardy earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in theatre, mass media communications and child development. After working a random assortment of jobs from costume character, deck hand, kickboxing trainer, preschool teacher, and scuba diver she decided to dedicate her life to a lasting career of helping people with diagnostic ultrasound.

Based in Orlando, Florida, Adrienne graduated in 2021 and now works at the level one trauma hospital Orlando Regional Medical Center. Find her on Instagram: @smile_outloud

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

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