Ultrasound Interview: Sophia Made It!
I met Sophia while chatting with folks, giving ultrasound interview advice on Facebook’s largest and most well-known ultrasound Facebook group: Sonographers Do It In The Dark! Anyone that’s anyone and everyone that’s an ultrasound tech comes here. Boasting almost 50,000 members there’s a lot of information, help and advice too share.
I decided to write this article in honor of Sophia for her dedication and passion for passing a sonography interview, accepting a full time job and to begin her career. All the ultrasound interviews and advice can’t help if there are only a few jobs where you live. I interviewed Sophia and asked her questions that could help anyone looking for work. Regardless if you are looking for travel work or full time work, it isn’t always easy. Sometimes you really have to maintain composure and keep pushing until it happens. Sophia’s hope is that this inspires and gives hope to future ultrasound technologists out there or anyone in general facing any obstacles that interfere with their career goals…
Why did you choose Ultrasound? Why not MRI or Echo or a degree in Business?
I did not initially plan to become an ultrasound technologist. I started my healthcare career at the age of 17, as a Certified Nursing Assistant. I worked in every possible department as a CNA from long-term care, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals. I did it for about 7yrs and then I thought I would become a Nurse someday. The constant physical demands of my job made me realize I wasn’t sure my body could handle all the years of doing patient care if I became a Nurse.
I then became fascinated by the ultrasound world, when I was pregnant with my son. I thought how cool would it be to see how we look inside never knowing what pathology we could find in the day. I just loved learning different specialties that ultrasound has such as, vascular, abdomen, OB/GYN, small parts, etc…
Another reason I chose ultrasound as my career is that I can still interact with my PT’s like I use too as a CNA, but not dealing with the physical strain I endured with constant patient care (IE: assisting in transfers, etc.) I take pride in knowing I can provide diagnostic images and still be able to assist in their medical care. I eventually want to learn echo as well but for now, I want to focus on the goals I set first, which is taking my next registries.
You passed your SPI while attending class? That’s not easy …right?
Yes, I actually struggled with physics when I was attending the class, since it made no sense to me. Then someone told me to read Edelman’s book for the test. I completely understood the material from reading the book and passed SPI on the first try. I studied for it during my last classes and ended up scheduling the test during my extern. I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time before I applied for it and set a date. I had just stopped working full-time nights at the hospital as well. That helped me focus more on extern and my upcoming test.
Yet, you were having difficulty passing your CCI test. Why? What was going on?
With CCI it was Vascular and physics involved. I kept doing well on the physics aspect of it, but kept having difficulties with the vascular part. I am bilingual in Spanish and English so a lot of the word choices on the test were words that I had never read before and that was another challenge for me. I would attend the CCI reviews the school would offer and somehow I still felt that I needed more. I felt each time I would go to re-take the test I felt more nervous just knowing that I had already failed before and the thought of having to pay another test again. I definitely felt frustrated, since a lot of the jobs wanted at least an ARDMS registry or CCI. For me I could not sit for an ARDMS registry unless I had SPI and CCI. So I looked on the CCI website for an outline of the categories the test had and the books they used for that material, since they had just recently made more changes to this test . One of the books I noticed was Davies. I ended up purchasing the newest edition of the Davies vascular book and did the Davies practice questions. I read the whole book and wrote many notes. I studied 2-3 hours a day for 3 months before I had the courage again to schedule a test date for the 5th time. I made sure I had enough rest the night before the test and I did not do any studying the night before either. I was very nervous again once I arrived at my test center. I arrived about 30 minutes early. I took some deep breathes to try to relax and I talked to myself through that I can do this. I have been studying and I understand the material. I got this… I did not try to change the answers I did on my test. Anything I did not know the answer to. I would flag it and move on to the next question to give me more time in the end to answer it.
I noticed on your Facebook post you stated that you continued to scan at your school while you were looking for work. How often did you go to school to do that?
Yes, I did. Ever since I had graduated. I continued to go just so that I would not lose the skills I had learned.
I tried to go at least twice a month, sometimes 4 times a month! It was a challenge finding volunteers and making the time to have someone watch my son, since my boyfriend was the sole provider for us while I focused on my career the times I stopped working. When I was not scanning at the school, I would take the time to watch ultrasound videos through a website called sonoworld. They had videos on how to do the protocols we learned in school and I would look at case studies to see the different pathology we would encounter in the field.
Was it cathartic?
I would definitely feel better that I was at least able to continue my scanning in some way even if I did not yet have a job. I just never wanted to lose the hope of given up on something I worked hard to accomplish.
Looking back, from graduating to accepting your new position, is there anything you would have done differently? Why?
I think if I honestly knew it would take me so long to find a job I would have accepted some out of state positions just so that I could have gotten the experience I needed sooner. Things happen for a reason and I am grateful of my failed interviews and challenges I have faced because I have learned so much and I still continue to learn in the career that I love.
You received quite a bit of support from the group. I noticed a few people sharing their hardships, finding work and passing exams. Sounds like your story lifted them up. How does that make you feel?
I feel a sense of relief that I was not the only one facing this challenge and I wanted to share obstacles I faced along the way. I felt I needed to share my story, once I had landed a job because I had felt such joy knowing that the day had finally come and all the hard work I put in had finally paid off.
To let them know that it does not matter the time it takes to get there or how many times we fail. It’s how we improve from those failed attempts and taking the time to better ourselves if it truly is the career you feel you want for yourself. We just have to find that courage to keep pushing and think that it may feel impossible to accomplish but all we can do is keep trying and finding ways to get what we need to land that job. There was a post from another person in the group and she helped me tremendously stay focused because she managed to pass three registries that year and here I was struggling with just one.
People do look for ways to keep trying and I feel that it’s through other people’s accomplishments and seeing that they did it so I can too.
What advice (other than never give up) would you give to someone having trouble finding work in your field?
Find ways to improve your skills. Learn from failed interviews and always thank the company for taking the time to meet with you whether you got the job or not. Continue to edit your resume and add cover letters in your applications. When volunteer opportunities arise take it for that experience. I asked the school if I could shadow at a hospital and I was given that opportunity. That was something to add to my cover letter. If we do not put effort into what we’re struggling with, then I feel there will be not much of an improvement. We can never lose that faith that even if today we did not get there. We know we will be better at it next time. I would feel so nervous when asked to scan at interviews but eventually I did so many interviews that those nerves eased off and I knew I was getting better at it.
I hope that I can help in your growing career and remember to always keep a positive outlook even when we feel that day will never come.
If you’re looking for advice, discussion or just want to be able to chat with like minded people, I highly reccomend checking out Sonographers Do It in the Dark! on Facebook. The group was started close to 9 years ago originally as a way for a group of sonography classmates to keep in touch, share case studies, ask for help and advice, and vent to one another. Started out with fewer than 20 members, and now approaching 50,000 members, international sonographers and physicians representing multiple countries, and shared once in a lifetime case studies. The group has helped find jobs, network, and facilitates learning for student and veteran alike.
Sophia is on her way to becoming a Purple Squirrel! Congrats!