Starting your ultrasound externship can be both exciting and scary at the same time. This is the time when you get a taste of what it’s like to work in the field and apply what you’ve learned in school to real patients. Your externship will also give you a chance to make connections with professionals in the field that you can potentially use as references for future job opportunities. Your externship acts as the foundation on which to build your career.
Every student’s externship experience is a little different. Depending on the size of the facility, the number of patients they see, and the size of their staff can affecet how much time you get to scan and what role you will play as an extern. For instance, a busy facility with a high patient volume but small staff may not be able to provide you with much time to scan as a facility with a lower patient volume. No matter which facility you end up in, you need to be proactive in taking away all that you can from your experience. This means that even when you are not scanning a patient that you are observing studies, taking notes, and asking questions. When you are scanning a patient ask for feedback and advice for how you can improve your skills.
Being professional at all times during your externship is very important. Although you may not be getting paid to be there, you should think of it as a job. Showing up on time and dressing appropriately show that you care and you want to be there. When communicating with patients always introduce yourself and do as much as possible to make them comfortable. Also, offer to help out the staff that you are working with. Whether it be filling gel bottles or stocking supplies, make yourself available to help out. This will show that you take an interest in what you are doing and want to make the most of your time.
The key point to remember while you are on your externship is that you are there to learn. Your school may assign you certain tasks to complete on your externship such as getting images of certain pathology. Do all that you can to complete these assignments and if you need help, ask the techicians you are working with to help you. Ultilize the people around you as they have been in your shoes and are now in their career. Even if you are at a very busy facility, try to pick a time of day, such as at lunch or at the end of the day to go over things that you have questions about. If you feel that you are not provided these opportunities and you are not getting all that you should from your externship, be sure to contact your school and make them aware of the situation. Keep in mind that part of your tuition is being paid to these facilites to have you there as an extern so you deserve to get the best experience possible.
Your ultrasound externship is your stepping stone to starting a rewarding career in the field of ultrasound. Be sure to make the most of the opportunity to ensure a great start to your career.