Are Sonographers looking after themselves??

July 1, 2021

Written by Gail Crawford (Director/Tutor Sonographer at Integrated Ultrasound Education)

Recently Integrated Ultrasound Education (IUE) in conjunction with Angie Bain – director and wellbeing practitioner at ‘Survive to Thrive’ ran a “Counselling for Sonographers” session.

Angie is a fantastic, highly motivated and engaging presenter.

While most of you, like myself, have been to basic education sessions about counselling, and delivery of bad news; and studied the basic foundations at a  university level;  what really sparked my interest from Angie’s Talk and something that I really hadn’t considered at all was:

“Are sonographers looking after THEMSELVES……. mentally” ??????

I don’t really think this is something that I have ever really thought about in my role as a sonographer.

We are busy concentrating on our occupational health and safety, ergonomics; muscular pain and injury, which are all extremely important in our role as a Sonographer and definitely as a tutor; I talk to students on day one of training about the importance of ergonomics and its role in our profession.

As sonographers we can spend 20 – 30 min or even up to an hour with a patient.  Often, they confide in us, whether it is about their upcoming day, the tough time they are having in their lives with children not performing at school, having to move house, etc.  Often these conversations are intense/draining on the brain.  We are often involved in delivery of “Bad news”; a failed pregnancy or worse the demise of a third trimester pregnancy.  These circumstances never get any easier.  I have been scanning for 20 years and I can still outline the severely traumatising news I have had to give.  This can impact on us as Sonographers both mentally and physically.

Often after encountering these patients we are then required to continue with our normal days list.  Missing lunch, trying to keep on time.   When your list run’s late you can encounter more problems, like making silly mistakes, or patients being hostile/annoyed that you are running late.  You the sonographer has to manage these expectations, along with doing the best job possible

.  – Love this quote…. so true!!

Have you ever really stopped and thought about yourselfSELFCARE ?

Angie provided us with a useful set of insights into how we can be mindful of our own mental health and wellbeing.

  • Have you debriefed about a situation with a colleague ? Does your practice have a policy regarding such stress/mental health scenarios? There are other help lines available such as Beyond Blue, Headsup and Lifeline.
  • Have you considered meditation ?
  • Have you considered that maybe your exhaustion at the end of the day is mental not physical and that getting your body moving with a leisure activity maybe helpful.
  • Love this point – Mums who are trying to juggle work/children – loose some mum guilt and give yourself some time for you (This really resonates with me a proud, but often overworked mum of two beautiful girls).

I love working as a sonographer and tutor sonographer.  It is such an amazing, challenging, rewording career, but until now I have never really considered the full enormity of what we offer.  Yes we are highly specialised practitioners, but along with offering the practical component of our occupation comes an inherent level of communication, counselling or involvement in delivery bad news.

Sonographers you are amazing and be kind to yourselves!!!