Feeling some first-day-back jitters?
You're not alone. Scanning is undeniably a hands-on skill and you are probably wondering if your hands will remember what to do! When I was preparing to return to work after four months of travel I found myself with a serious case of the nerves. But underneath that I knew that I had learned this skill well and that it would come back to me if I prepared properly. So this is what I did to get my brain back into scanning mode so I could get back to the career that I loved.
1. Review of notes.
If you don’t have any ultrasound material in your home, visit your local library and peruse the shelves or go online to sites like auntminnie.com, ultrasoundcases.info or sonoworld.com and start scrolling.
The process of reading through notes or reviewing cases and pathology will refresh your memory and make clear the areas that you are weak in so you can focus on strengthening all aspects of your skill.
In many ways returning to work is a bit like being a student again. So think back to your student days. They prepared you well for situations just like this.
Sit down and jot out notes about scanning routines, tips for image optimization, or the details needed when doing a complicated OB scan. What you can’t remember you know you’ll need to look up. And what you do remember will pleasantly surprise you, it is usually much more than you think.
Try to spend at least half an hour 3 times a week reviewing in the months leading up to your return to work.
2. Enroll in an online course.
Check out sites like burwin.com. They aren't cheap, but the material is comprehensive and the customer service excellent. You can usually proceed at your own pace, but they do suggest a 3-4 month schedule. Plus you’ll get enough CME’s upon course completion to cover you for the next 3 year period! One less thing to worry about.
3. Mental practice.
To utilize this process just sit down and mentally review the process of scanning.
Visualize and go through all the buttons you remember on the ultrasound console and touchscreen, review the setting up process for beginning an abdomen or routine OB scan, and visualize the transducer and hand movements you would go through when scanning leg veins or doing a renal scan.
As in all things, practice makes perfect. Try to go through each routine or procedure at least three times to best get it into your brain.
4. Chat with a friend in the field.
Make notes of the areas where you need further improvement and ask for advice and tips, you never know who has been in your shoes before and what helpful information is out there for you unless you ask!
5. Have confidence.
You will make some mistakes and you will forget a few things but there are plenty of people that you can ask for help when you need it.
Keep your sense of humour, your humility and a truthful nature close at hand. People will trust you more if you tell the truth about what you are unsure about, this way they will also trust you later on when you make tough calls or take on more challenging cases.
Always remember that your skills will return to you the more you scan so just get back out there and start scanning!
At the end of the day it's those who put in the effort to succeed that actually do. You need to prove to both your new employers and yourself (most importantly) that you are capable of this. Then all you have do it go out and do what you know you can do. It's that simple.