The New Year is upon us once again so it’s time to turn a new leaf both professionally and personally for many of us in the cardiac sonography community. This time of year allows us to reflect upon the last year and contemplate what we did right and what we did…well…not so right. It also gives us an opportunity to change a few things and refocus our efforts to better ourselves and develop into better people. Each year many of us make New Year’s resolutions but unfortunately, good intentions don’t always translate into results. However, this year I wanted to share a few of my resolutions in the hope that it will encourage you to do the same.
Identify a workplace challenge and address it with achievable plans
Many of us have challenges each day at work. Perhaps it is learning stress echo as a new graduate or perhaps it’s being more accessible to staff if you are a manager. Regardless of where you are, there is always a challenge in your career.
I have had a fortunate career insofar as working with some great people and have always tried to be the best sonographer I could be. Until recently, I have been working strictly in pediatric echo, so my exposure to contrast echo hasn’t been what it was when I worked in adult echo. However, as I am now at a new job in a new institution, I am going to try to learn everything I can about what has been going on in contrast echo over the past seven years. Obviously, there have been many changes ranging from agents to imaging protocols. I am going to spend as much time as I can to “relearn” everything I can about contrast echo in an effort to better myself professionally as well as afford my patients the best care I can give them. So my short-term plan is to read, read, read, and read all I can about the research that has been done in the past few years. My long-term plan is to become my institution’s “go to” sonographer when it comes to contrast echo.
Identify a mentor and become a mentor
Everyone needs a mentor regardless of how many years he or she has been in the field of cardiac sonography. Everyone has something to learn, and everyone has something to teach. Fortunately, my institution is full of potential mentors, and I look forward to finding mine. I will also plan on becoming a mentor for less experienced sonographers as well, perhaps in adult congenital heart disease. I love teaching and interacting with sonographers of all experience levels, and I look forward to this resolution the most this year.
Spend more quality time with my family
Okay so it isn’t true that #2 is my favorite. Nothing is more important to me than spending time with my family…good quality time. I learned long ago that working hard is very rewarding, but working hard so I can afford to spend time with my family is even more rewarding. This year I am going to promise to spend every free moment I have enjoying the time with family because time passes quickly and before I know it, the kids are off to college, and I will have missed my chance. My family is the reason I work so I want to enjoy it before everyone grows up.
Become active on a different committee and engage in the local echo society
Not only is it richly rewarding to volunteer to serve ASE, but it is also a great learning experience as you meet new people in the field and see how he or she does things in his or her own way. Talking to different people often affords us the opportunity to solve our own problems in ways we never thought. Volunteering for ASE also is very fulfilling personally as it allows us to give back to the field the knowledge our experience has given us and helps us shape the field for future generations of cardiac sonographers. I also plan on becoming more involved at the local level within the local echo society. Local societies often allow us to help shape the field as well and also afford us the chance to earn CME’s and network with our local peers.
Do more research
Sonographer research is one of the most important things we can do as sonographers to change the field for the better. After all, who knows more about actually performing an echo than the sonographers? Sonographer research can often be funded as the ASE Foundation sets aside funding for research each year, and sonographers are eligible to submit grants and apply to have their research funded. I plan on submitting a research grant this year so I can continue to help make the field of cardiac sonography a great career choice for future leaders in the field.
I wish everyone a happy and safe New Year, and I hope you all make a few resolutions of your own!
Patrick Coon, RCCS, RDCS, FASE is currently the charge sonographer at the Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute, Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health Systems in Morristown, New Jersey.