Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography

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Sonographers Making Waves - Stephen Wiseman

by Katie Kuntz, MEd, RT(R), RDMS, RVT, FSDMS

Sonographers Making Waves - Stephen Wiseman
Sonographers Making Waves
Stephen Wiseman, RDMS, RVT

How long have you been a sonographer?
I have been a sonographer for 21 years.

Where are you located?
Tulsa, Oklahoma

How did you become interested in your career? 
I entered the US Navy in 1990 and trained as a radiographer through basic x-ray school in Oakland, CA. My last three years of active duty were at the Naval Hospital in Corpus Christi, TX. At that time, there were two civilians doing sonography - Phyllis Cox and Sherry Tabor. I had the opportunity to observe them when we were not too busy in Radiology. I could not believe they knew what they were seeing. I was fortunate because they spent time showing the anatomy to me, and teaching me how to scan. It was fascinating!

Where ​do you work?
Towards the end of my enlistment in 1994, I applied and was accepted into the University of Oklahoma's sonography program for the fall. I began working at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May 1996.

Two of the most influential people in my early career at St. John were my lead sonographer, Debbie Dorsey, and our radiologist, Richard Laughlin, MD. Ms. Dorsey taught me how to grind through a busy schedule and tough exams day after day. Dr. Laughlin would come into our scanning rooms and post-scan every exam. Watching him was like watching an artist at work—his scanning seemed effortless and his images were perfect. I still try to emulate his scanning.

How have you been “Making Waves?”
I am most proud of the year I spent deployed with a Navy Medical Expeditionary Unit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center-Landstuhl, Germany that received combat casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan in my career. I re-enlisted in 2005, and from 2007-2008, while at LRMC, I scanned the usual general exams that you might be familiar with in a busy Sonography Department. We performed gallbladder, pelvis, thyroid, etc., but we also performed scans on the combat casualties. I was shocked at the number of casualties coming in, and the severity of the injuries. We did a lot of scrotal sonography for blast injuries and gunshots, as well as abdominal exams and arterial Doppler studies. Venous Doppler was by far the most frequent exam performed because these combat casualty patients could not be anticoagulated. It was an honor to be able to be a part of their care. It was truly meaningful in ways that I cannot describe.

What would you like to tell other SDMS members to inspire them to make a difference and enrich their careers?
My advice to sonographers starting out is to be a student of your craft. Know what you are doing—keep abreast of the changes in the profession through professional journals and continued study. In addition to staying knowledgeable, you must also take care of yourself physically. When first starting out, you may feel that it could not happen to you. However, work related musculoskeletal injury in the profession is real. The repetition of scanning, portables, and moving patients takes a toll on your body, so your awareness and maintaining physical fitness now may be the key to a long term-career as a sonographer.

Do you know a sonographer who is doing something out of the ordinary? Whether it is a grand gesture or a small moment that makes a difference in someone’s life, the SDMS would like to hear about it so that we can share it with you. So, if YOU know someone who is making waves, tell us at!