Sonographers..Overworked and Underappreciated.
I recently visited a friend in florida who is a sonographer, One night while I was there I waited for her to get home from work, she was suppose to get out at 5:00 and when the clock struck 6:30 I started calling her because I was getting worried. Right after I hung up after no answer she walked in the door. I could feel her exhaustion just looking at her, she plops down on her couch, lets out a big sigh and begins to vent. ” I did 18 exams today, then my 4:00 showed up at 5:00 when I was about to go home and I still had to do her exam, I didn’t get a lunch and I can’t remember sitting down once today.” I felt so bad for her as I have been there before so I felt her pain.
I’m sure we all in one way or another can relate to Madge’s experience. We continue to wonder why this is still happening and why it’s still allowed that clerical people who schedule our exams have the right to dictate how many exams we do, add-ons we accept and how it doesn’t matter the conflict when a patient shows up an hour late they still get told “have a seat and someone will be right with you.”. When mandatory add-ons are thrown into an already demanding schedule, we are forced to increase output, and the stress to stay ahead can often be overwhelming. The tendency is often to speed up with increased workload. But is this ultimately beneficial to the patient? Should we really spend less time performing a sonography examination when we are busy versus when we are not? We must ask ourselves these questions. It is my belief that on numerous occasions, this will result in an inadequately performed examination. Decreasing the amount of time spent with our patients could direct the physician to misdiagnose our images.
Now, I’m not talking about injuries and the ergonomics we can use to avoid them, that’s a whole different topic. Although, the excessive patient workload can contribute to injuries, I’m discussing the cause for the high percentage of turnover in our industry, the fact that quantity over exceeds quality for patients, and how the reputation for sonography has quickly become so politically damaged as most areas in healthcare is today.
The sad aspect of this leads to how we as sonographers’ feel unappreciated, it doesn’t matter to CEO’s or the political people that make those bonuses at the end of the year by how much money they saved the company, that we are rapidly reaching burnout, that we saved a life that day, and that we go home to our families emotionally and physically exhausted. What matters to them is the end of the day numbers that ultimately calculates their bonuses.
As sonographers, we understand that every day can be both challenging and rewarding. One of the most gratifying elements of our profession is the ability to make a difference in our patients’ lives. So it’s only natural to want to give each patient the quality of time they deserve to explain the exam, get the ready and positioned accordingly and at the end help them up and graciously say goodbye.
I realize in the world out there not every place is the same, there are still facilities, managers and Doctors who appreciate their sonographers, for those of us that are not unfortunately we do not have much of a say anymore and if you feel like you just can’t do it anymore then I’m here to tell you IT’s OK to move on. Exit interviews are interviews performed after an employee has turned in his or her resignation. These interviews uncover information pertaining to why an employee is choosing to leave the facility. However, what if they did things differently and started doing say a “presence” interview and asked the question “Why do you stay?”. Such interview can yield important information about how current Sonographer’s are treated and afford preemptive changes to be made. Managers have numerous options in the fight against turnover in the department, the question is are they willing to fight or willing to let the good people just walk. That my friends, is a WHOLE other topic (or book) that I will get into at a later time.
In the meantime I would love to hear your thoughts and stories!
Together Let’s Make Sonography Great Again!