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A Day in the Life of an Ultrasound Student

By Carmen Fanning on February, 4 2021

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A Day in the Life of an Ultrasound Student

My alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m. I groan, not even the sun is out yet. It's Monday morning and I just spent the entire weekend studying for 2 tests, a quiz and also practiced for a scan quiz. I'm exhausted but I have to get up for class at 7:30.

Hello, I'm Carmen Fanning. A senior in the Ultrasound program here on campus. The program is a lot of coursework, hours of studying, and an enormous amount of dedication. Only a select few get in. There are fourteen of us and all of our classes are in person.

To start my morning routine I shower, do any additional studying if needed, grab a quiz breakfast and head to class. As I leave my apartment it’s still pitch black. I’m going to spend the next few hours in class. First Physics for an hour. We continue to keep learning new concepts then test our knowledge on a worksheet in class. We have a ten-minute break before the next class starts, OB/GYN. We’re learning about the first trimester which is really interesting… but very complex.

After our next break, we have lab for the next 2 hours. The first hour is spent scanning the abdomen and uterus. The next hour is spent scanning veins in the legs.

We constantly ask each other, “does this look, right?” Or complain to the teachers, “I can’t do it, can you help.”

Finally, we have an hour and a half break for lunch. I rush home and make something super quick so I can spend the additional time studying for the quiz we have later that day. When I’m feeling prepared enough I stop by Breathe Coffeehouse for a quick caffeine kick and pick me up.

Next is vascular class. We continue to expand on the venous system and apply it to the work we did in lab. Now we have abdominal class and nerves are high for the quiz at hand. After testing, we continue to delve into the concepts of pathologies in the body.

FINALLY, our day is over and we rush home to finally relax our brains. I sneak in a quick power nap before grabbing my backpack to spend the next 3-4 hours studying for upcoming tests at Starbucks. Around 8/8:30 p.m. I call it a day and head home.

What sets the ultrasound program apart from other programs is our intimate class size and our classes are very career specific. There are fourteen students total with three teachers. We spend a lot of time together and use each other as practice when scanning. Our first semester classes consist of: Physics and Instrumentation, Obstetrical and Gynecology, Abdominal, and Vascular Ultrasound. Physics goes in-depth about the equipment we use and how to calculate different things within the field. OB&GYN delves into the specifics of first, second and third-trimester scanning. Abdominal covers topics of the anatomy within our bodies along with their processes and functions.

We have three different labs additionally: Vascular, General Abdominal and General Pelvis. Vascular scanning deals with arteries and veins of the entire leg. So far, we’ve covered the major arteries of the upper and lower leg and the venous system of the upper leg. In General Abdominal class, we scan organs such as the abdominal aorta, pancreas, gallbladder and even thyroid. Lastly, General Pelvis scanning deals with all things uterus. This will be imperative knowledge for when we begin scanning pregnant patients.

Monday’s are long, but don’t compare to our Tuesday schedule…

We have class again at 7:30 but each class is back to back to back until lunchtime with only a ten-minute break between each class. It can be hard to switch gears so constantly. After lunch, we spend the rest of the day in lab, about three hours total. Our day is finally over at 4 p.m.

Ever since I started in the program, I go to bed super early. I like to do things to unwind my mind and rewind such as light a candle, call a friend or catch up on a series I’m watching. I tend to go to bed around 10 or 10:30 p.m.

Wednesdays, we get to sleep in a little longer. We have lab at 8 a.m. and scan until noon. We switch back and forth between general and vascular lab. During this time, we usually have scan quizzes or scan check-offs to ensure the teacher of our knowledge and progress.

We must stay up to date with our studies. Falling behind will cause major stress because we move through topics so quickly. I usually take Mondays and Tuesdays off for studying but I spend Wednesday-Sunday catching up or studying for tests. I tend to spend 3-4 hours a day studying. It’s a lot but worth it to not fall behind in classes.

Our grading scale is also different. 100-94 is an A, 93-87 is a B, 86-78 is a C, 77-70 is a D and 69 and below is a U. To continue in the program your grade must stay above a 78%. To do this it takes a lot of focus, sacrifice and dedication. We only have a year of classes in person then the next year we spend at clinicals at a site chosen by the instructors. Clinical sites range from Great Bend, KS, Ottawa, KS, Woodward, OK, Shawnee Mission, KS and more. During the interview process, we are allowed to rank which site we want from 1-10 and the instructors choose which one you will go to.

We must absorb as much information as we can because sooner than later we will be putting it into practice on real patients. The program is hard but very rewarding.

Carmen Fanning

Hello my name is Carmen Fanning. I'm currently a senior in the ultrasound department at FHSU. Although my major is science, I’ve always enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. My most enjoyable classes have always been English classes because of how it can be thought provoking and an outlet of emotions and information. I’m not a loud person, so it’s nice to put my thoughts into the world through writing. My other hobbies include roller skating, cooking, thrifting and reading. I hope to continue writing post graduation as an enjoyable hobby. I’ll be entering the health care field as ultrasound tech and will continue my degree at a hospital of my choosing. Not sure where yet, but I’m excited for the journey!


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