Sonoguru

I have been fortunate and have been able to attend multiple types of conferences to benefit my career and I can’t say enough good things about them. Weather I was there to work and still able to sit in on talks or I was solely there to attend the conference either way I left with takeaways.

Every year, as major societies host scientific sessions, sonographers yearn to earn their ‘‘golden ticket.’’ Decisions are made whether sonographers will be able to attend educational events based on available funds in the department. The intent of continuing education is to ensure that staff continually update their knowledge as health-care needs change.  Is the lack of funding the barrier standing between the diligent sonographer and more education?   

Studies have found that finances were not always the primary barrier.  Educational events were perceived as being those that should occur only during the work day. Commitments outside of work and lack of a work-life balance were major deterrents to attending education events. Personal motivation, peer support, and mutual learning have also been shown to be factors in the pursuit of career development.

There is a known drop in morale due to the relative increase in staff workload when other employees are attending an off-site meeting.  A non-supportive work environment from management or peers can be detrimental to a group. In extreme cases, peer envy can result in a group mindset that prevents peer support for the individuals that are academically motivated. Professional envy can result in a destructive and disruptive environment and may promote a faster decline in morale.

As sonographers, we work each day to elevate ourselves and help our co-workers. Sonographers can flourish in the academic field and can cheer on their peers if their friends’ names are in print or their colleague is presenting at a national meeting.  Sonographers can ask to be mentored and can begin by identifying opportunities that are open around them whether it is at work, in a local society, or national organization. They can look for opportunities within their own labs and can participate actively in research and education.

Sonographer Society guidelines recognize schooling alone is insufficient to teach the complex nature of sonography, and it is important for the individual sonographer to take the initiative to educate themselves.

Is money a scapegoat for something else that might be missing? Lifelong learning is a personal responsibility. Self-motivated learners can invest in themselves by accessing the wide variety of webinars, didactic tutorials, and topic-specific lectures led by leaders in the Ultrasound world.

We invest in a gym to help us stay fit, and we invest in the stock market to increase our monetary worth. Isn’t it time to consider investing in ourselves to increase our education and proficiency in our careers? Investing in professional memberships, investing funds to attend a conference, and investing time in volunteering at local or national societies are all avenues to education and life-long learning. Personal motivation and supporting our peers are how we can make a difference in the educational process at work. A personal focus on being a life-long learner can help fill the educational gaps if the ‘‘golden ticket’’ is not found.

Sonoguru

Almost every workplace has a “ Know it all”.   Someone who thinks they know the correct way to run a lab/office, the correct way to measure anatomy, down to the right way to scan patients.  They are the first person to weigh in at meetings and have an opinion that make sure is heard and the first one to speak out when they think you are wrong.

So what do you do if you love your job but can’t stand this type of colleague/irritant? This is where emotional intelligence comes in. As tempting as it may be, you can’t say, “Thanks, but you’re wrong,” and walk away.  Experts say it’s better to find strategies for working with the office know-it-all.

Difficult as it may be, you need to keep your aggravation in check. As soon as you see the office know-it-all’s mouth open, resist the urge to roll your eyes into the back of your head. Instead, try to find some common ground.  When we focus on what we agree with, it makes it easier to listen to what [the know-it-all] has to say, and it connects us on an emotional level in a positive way.

By removing the negative emotion from our observation, we lessen our frustration and instead learn something about why the know-it-all chooses to constantly self-promote.

“I have great ideas, but no one ever takes my ideas seriously,” he meditates on during meetings—while interrupting you to make sure people hear his opinion.  In that case, acknowledging the person’s ideas will likely establish a better working relationship.

When we listen without an agenda, we can begin to understand what makes the know-it-all tick, we can identify triggers for their behavior and know how to avoid them.

Address the elephant in the conference room. When you know you’re going to have to work with an office know-it-all on a project (and are totally dreading it).  State your intention: ‘I’d like to work on this project collaboratively, and I know we won’t always agree. I’d like the work to be a reflection of both of our ideas.

Sometimes you will just have to be very direct.  Conveying to your coworker that although they have very strong opinions and  you admire that, but that you feel cut off and dismissed when they insist that they are right or are not willing to compromise or collaborate with you.

Don’t argue or look to butt heads, as that will only frustrate both of you. In a team meeting, offer your point of view and ideas, but don’t make it about rebutting their ideas. Keep a mental note on how this particular type of person operates and remember there is enough space in the workplace for both of you.

Sonoguru

Most of us has been “feedback smacked” at some point in our life.  During a meeting, an innocent walk down the hallway, or a performance review, someone delivers us a verbal wallop that rocks our psychological footing to the core.  If you have been haunted by a harsh comment you received maybe even a decade ago, and it still stings. Well you’re not alone.

When I first got into ultrasound I’ll admit, I felt on top of the world. I may have even felt above some others working in the hospital, like the ex-coworkers (whom I loved and respected while working with them in the lab by the way). But when I became somebody, and accomplished something big like a degree, I may have let it get to my head. Thank god someone saw this pompous behavior and knocked me back into humbleness.

Let me first say that this was well over a decade ago and I have grown as a person and as a professional since then.  The sad thing was that I had no idea! But my coworkers saw me as having an attitude and carrying myself differently.  To them it was as if I suddenly no longer needed any training, constructive criticism, or anything that would make me feel inferior or insecure about my work.

What was the first thing that changed my attitude you ask?  I was just out of school and took the first shift offered to me, which of course was the “shit” Shift…11p-7a.  A young girl came in with pelvic pain (what a surprise, right) well, as I scanned her and did a TV ultrasound, I did a thorough exam of the uterus, ovaries, adnexa’s. As I was doing the exam, I thought her “empty bladder” had maybe filled back up and thought nothing of it. I confidently sent the images down to the reading doctor to interpret for the ER doctor. However, before I knew it, the patient was back up to the department. The resident and reading doctor were in the room as well, and the morning sonographer was re-scanning the patient I had done the TV on.

I thought maybe they had her empty bladder her bladder so they could evaluate more, but I stood in the background nail biting hoping she didn’t find anything I missed.  I watched as my coworker rescanned my patient while the doctors observed. They got onto the structure I called “the bladder” and yup, you guessed it, a Big ‘ole cyst hanging off the uterus was being discussed. It was then that the resident blurted out “who called that the bladder?” and everyone in the room snickered.  In an instant my face turned red, and I could feel all the blood rushing through my body. I raised my hand and said “that would be me”.

I knew that my boss would find out, so I decided it would be best if she heard it directly from me.  I waited around for her to get in rather than leave.  It was that day that she took my admission of this mistake to unload!  Not only did she give me an earful about my (admitted) mistake, but she also felt the need to add in disapproval about my attitude and inability to take constructive criticism.

I believe that we all crave approval and fear truth. Critical feedback can feel traumatic because it threatens two of the most fundamental psychology needs: Safety and worth (a sense of self respect, self-regard, or self-confidence). Had I not stayed and received the feedback, that I I probably deserved, there is no telling what could have happened or not happened in the future.

Taking responsibility for our own actions allows us also to take responsibility for our own self-worth and safety.  Constructive criticism helps with this growth. Naturally it depends on how the criticism is delivered, especially if it’s by a manager who is a constant giver of criticism and not a good receiver of the same.  However, if it is given, the fundamental belief is that relentless exposure to truth is the best path to growth and happiness.

I may have learned that the hard way, but you don’t have to. Still, however you decide to grow in this career path, I hope you remember that in any given situation whether it be with yourself, or when it comes to the safety of the patient, honesty is always the best policy.   It’s OK to make mistakes, it’s part of the journey. It’s how you learn from those mistakes that will determine your success down the road. 

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