Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography

SDMS Announcements

2015 Annual Conference: Advancing Your Career Through Research

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DALLAS, Texas - To illustrate the importance of research in sonography and today’s opportunities, Carol Mitchell, PhD, ACS, RDMS, RDCS, RVT, RT(R), FASE, FSDM, started with a history lesson Thursday at the 2015 SDMS Annual Conference in Dallas.

Dr. Mitchell delivered the prestigious Stephen M. McLaughlin Memorial Lecture and explained that one invention or solution to a problem often results in another innovation. Mitchell told the crowd of about 1,000 that the first printing press resulted in the need for glasses and sonography’s roots can be traced to the first sonar devices in ships. 

“If others can act and actualize their ideas, find ways to use or add to existing technology, so can we,” Mitchel said. 

Throughout her career, Mitchell has used research to help sonography advance and take advantage of new technology. A clinical sonographer-turned-instructor, she is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiovascular Medicine. Dr. Mitchell is currently in a research position focusing on gray scale analysis.

 Her lecture showed the contrast in images when sonography first began to today, and she pointed out that diagnostic medical sonography wasn’t recognized as a profession until 1973. Throughout this modern period for three decades leading up to 2000, the credentialing exam was introduced and the first program was accredited.

With a rotating 3D image, she punctuated the point that sonography has come a long way.

  “Sonographers can find a way to build on existing technology through research and innovation,” she said. “We went from seeing the lens of the eye to getting more detailed profiles to getting 3D and 4D images. Our next era is going to open up many more opportunities for more sonographers to be engaged in research. We’ve seen the development entry-level programming, and the emergence of more graduate programs.

Any time you see emergence of graduate programs, you see a field of study opening up its own identity.”

So how would a clinical sonography get started in research?

Dr. Mitchell offered several tips. First, you need a mentor, perhaps somebody who is already involved in research projects and might need help with imaging. That’s how she got started. Dr. Mitchell told the story of attending a social event and meeting a physician who mentioned that he did research. She offered help, and the doctor called her the next day and asked if she was serious.

“Let people know you’re interested,” Mitchell said. “When you’re given the opportunity, the most critical thing you can do is follow through. If you’re asked to have measurements done by a deadline, get them done by the deadline. When you have a grant that’s funded, there are report deadlines that you have to meet.”

Have a professional attitude and curiosity, she said. People who transition from a more clinical to a more academic setting have an intellectual curiosity. Mitchell said researchers aren’t tempted to just do the job as they were trained. When they see an interesting case, they really want to know what that was.

“Don’t let yourself get antiquated,” Mitchell said. “Don’t get comfortable. Be that person who wants to actualize an idea. Get involved in research, and you’re going to be the one who runs the research.”