Sonographer: A Day in the Life
If you have had an ultrasound at Clinic Sofia, you’ve had the opportunity to meet our wonderful sonographers, Nancy Kibwage, Chelsie Spaeth and Jenni Curran. They have been with our clinic for several years—Nancy has been here since day one—and play an integral role in keeping our patients informed about their bodies throughout pregnancy and other conditions.
This month we spoke with Jenni to learn more about what a sonographer does and the role of ultrasound in women’s healthcare.
What does a sonographer do?
We serve as the doctor’s eyes. With pregnant patients, we want to make sure everything is OK with the baby. Through ultrasound, we monitor the heart rate, measure the size of the baby, look at the fluid around that baby and also check to make sure there are no anomalies.
On the gynecology side, we work with patients who may be experiencing infertility or those who may have irregular bleeding or ovary pain. An ultrasound helps find the cause of these issues as we can check the lining of the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) or other issues that may be a problem.
How do you help calm women who may be anxious about their first ultrasound?
I like to talk with my patients the whole time and explain exactly what I am doing and what we are seeing. I think it’s important to include them in the process and keep talking to them every step of the ultrasound.
How many ultrasounds do most women receive during pregnancy?
At Clinic Sofia, pregnant patients can expect to receive three ultrasounds throughout their pregnancy. The first ultrasound, a “dating ultrasound,” occurs around seven weeks to help pinpoint when the baby will be due. Then, there is an optional ultrasound in the first trimester to conduct genetic screening. This is followed by a mandatory ultrasound at 20 weeks to check the placenta and ensure the baby is positioned correctly.
Sometimes patients expect or want more ultrasounds, but we follow “ALARA” radiation safety principle or “as low as reasonably achievable” when it comes to conducting medical screenings. While there isn’t evidence that ultrasounds are a risk to the mother or baby, completing additional screening or scans can potentially lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety for the parents.
What did your training consist of?
There are both two-year and four-year programs to become a sonographer. My training included a four-year degree with additional coursework and training that helped me become a certified radiology technician and registered vascular technologist in addition to being a registered diagnostic medical sonographer.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I love working with couples and the opportunity to be a part of an intimate moment in their lives. And above all, it is a wonderful feeling to have a positive effect on their health. I truly love my job and working at Clinic Sofia, which has such a great, supportive staff and awesome patient community.