Certificate in Radiologic Technology
Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology
Master of Science in Administrative Studies for Communication
Sonographer, diagnostic medical sonography instructor
Since first earning her certificate in radiologic technology, Tammy Stearns has not stopped continuing her education in the medical field. She followed up her certificate with another in diagnostic medical sonography the following year. While working as an instructor in, and then program director of the diagnostic medical sonography program at Cox College in Springfield, Mo., she completed a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology from Missouri State University and then a master’s degree in administrative studies. After more than 10 years, she decided to leave her position at Cox to serve an at-risk population and currently works as a sonographer at a pregnancy care center, where she performs first trimester ultrasounds. She continues to teach as an instructor for the Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences in its diagnostic medical sonography program.
Why did you decide to study diagnostic medical sonography at first?
I first decided to study diagnostic medical sonography after viewing the ultrasound of my first child. I was amazed at the intricate detail that could be imaged along with the knowledge demonstrated by the sonographer. Upon further researching the profession, I learned that diagnostic medical sonography extended much further than the field of obstetrics. I was enticed by the ever-evolving technology and knowledge.
Why did you continue your education in the field?
I am a life-long learner. The field of sonography, the patients that we serve, and the advancing technology provides a continual educational forum. I specifically decided to complete my Master’s in Science in order to be qualify to teach in a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography program.
What have you enjoyed the most from studying it?
I have enjoyed multiple aspects of studying diagnostic medical sonography. I enjoy patient interaction, whether it be on the mission field or in the clinic. I also enjoy teaching our future sonographers and encouraging them in their endeavors. One of the most rewarding aspects of studying sonography has been my involvement in government relations in regards to sonography in the quest to obtain federally mandated credentialing of sonographers.
What are the most valuable skills you gained through your education?
The most valuable insight that I have gained through my education is the importance of sonographer education and credentialing. The quality of an ultrasound exam is only as good as the sonographer performing the exam. While there are nationally recognized credentials that sonographers can obtain by passing credentialing exams, there are not any federal mandated laws that require such credentialing. Therefore, ultrasound exams are being performed by people that have not demonstrated their level of expertise in sonography. This results in suboptimal or non-diagnostic exams along with an increase in repeat studies which translates into poor patient care and increased expenses. Presently, there are multiple legislative activities in various stages that would ensure the quality of the sonographer.
How have your degrees influenced your career?
The degrees that I have completed have greatly expanded opportunities available within the field of sonography. Personally, the completion of my Master’s in Science degree has allowed me the opportunity to teach within a bachelor’s completion degree program.
What advice would you give to potential diagnostic medical sonography students?
First, I encourage them to become active in a professional organization such as the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. This allows them the opportunity to increase their knowledge of their chosen profession along with the ability to have a voice within their profession. The second piece of advice that I give is to be diligent in researching DMS programs prior to applying to a program. They should make sure that the program is programmatically accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education (CAAHEP). A complete listing of all accredited programs is available at www.caahep.org. This accreditation ensures that the program is compliant with the national standards as set by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and allows for their graduates to sit for national registries in sonography upon graduation.