Tammy is from Nashua, NH. She is married with two daughters. Tammy spent some time in the United States Marine Corp before studying to become an Ultrasound Tech.
An Ultrasound Tech has to ask patients about their medical history. What’s the weirdest thing you ever heard?
The weirdest thing I have ever heard concerning a person’s past medical history has to be the guy with this condition that causes tufts of hair (yes hair) to grow inward at the tail of the spine. He had to have two previous growths of this type removed before he came in thru our ER Dept to evaluate the possibility of another growing there.
Now that we have covered the weirdest thing you ever heard, what is the weirdest thing you ever saw?
The craziest thing I have ever seen was a broken Penis. (Yes they can break) We only evaluate testicles here in this Lab. However this man came in with swelling and bleeding to that area. It was a rare occasion when I have been privy to the Urologist meeting with the patient while I was concluding my study. He explained to the patient that the blood vessels inside the shaft fill with blood during erection and if adequate force is applied that vessel can rupture causing a proverbial “broken penis” However, there is little done for it other than pain management, ice and reevaluation. Normally the vessel will clot off on its own. The patient did however share with me, as I expressed compassion for his situation, that he got what he deserved because he was messing around where he shouldn’t have been……explain a broken penis to your significant other??? YIKES
What can go wrong if an Ultrasound Tech does not do a test correctly?
If an Ultrasound Tech does not correctly evaluate the patient or perform the study correctly, the Tech can be legally liable for malpractice is some more serious circumstances. However, the danger to the patient of course is most concerning. Studies we do involve the health and well being from fetuses to the elderly. In many cases people are in danger of losing life or limb. For example if a tech misses a blood clot in the deep veins of a patients leg that clot could potentially propagate to the lungs or heart causing respiratory arrest or heart failure. With that being said, we always have a Radiologist available to check behind us, or to ask for assistance. It is the Tech’s job to take the best pictures obtainable and the Radiologists job to diagnose the patient. It is important for the Tech to not only document the findings on the study but to explain any limitations preventing the tech from getting optimal images. This limits the liability for the Tech, protects the patients, and ensures the patient gets the best possible imaging.
What has been you single most stressful day at work?
The most stressful day? If I would have to pinpoint only one day, I would have to say it would have been one of the first days I started. I was hired the day before I graduated school, I was certainly nervous and stressed out in fear of missing something or doing something wrong and endangering a patient or my job. However, with experience comes confidence.
Tell us about a patient you’ll never forget that had a positive impact on you.
The patient that had a positive impact on me had to be this elderly couple I went up to see in the Rehab unit. The gentleman was the patient and his wife was staying with him in his room. The man was not doing well and it seemed like this might have been the last leg of his journey. She was so concerned for him, and so pleasant to visit despite her suffering. The man was unable to speak due to the tubes and medical devices keeping him alive. She began to tell me of their life. The fruit trees he had planted for her years ago that still bear fruit. She happily jared, jellied and baked for him. The struggles they had endured together and the children they had raised to successes. It was a heart filling moment, and certainly made me appreciate the moments I am fortunate enough to share with my family. Definitely made me appreciate the little things.
What piece of equipment has recently come out that is changing Ultrasound. Tell us about it.
Ultrasound much like any technology is always changing. Advancements are always available. We currently use GE products and have 3D 4D imaging capabilities, as well as specialized probes that evaluate internally. The newest learning experience for US Technology would have to be the Muscular Skeletal aspect of the modality. We have begun evaluating muscle tears and fluid collections surrounding joints. Ultrasound is also being considered for organ targeted chemotherapy treatment, in other words the ability to introduce the drugs to the targeted organ or mass therefore limiting the exposure of the toxic medicines to the healthy tissue. These both are exciting areas of the field just now becoming more main stream.
If someone were thinking of entering the medical field, would you encourage them to be an Ultrasound Tech? Why or Why not?
I would advocate for Ultrasound Technology as a career goal. It is a clean hands area of the medical field. In other words I don’t have to stick anybody with needles, dress wounds, change beds or any of the less than attractive things nurses and other medical personnel are forced to do. We see patients for up to an hour for an individual study or procedure. The radiologist does all the sticking or cutting that may be required and as a tech you assist him. It is an exciting and interesting career for people that like to solve puzzles, enjoy taking pictures and have the aptitude for human anatomy and disease processes. The pay is comparable to nursing and slightly higher than all the other radiological positions. Ultrasound does take practice and skill. The job field is kept pretty accessible to new people in the field as we are require to take several exams (like boards) to become registered in the field. These are challenging and require extensive study.
What professional goals do you have for yourself in the next 5 years?
The next five years I would like to complete my Abdomen Registry test. I have just a few credits before I obtain my Bachelors, so I would love to finish with that. I would also like to pursue a position that may lead to management. It would be very satisfying to manage an Ultrasound Department, as well as financially lucrative.