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Sonographer, Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake Substitute Sonographer, Centennial Hospital, Frisco “I was an manufacturing engineer for over 25 years. A couple of years ago, it was obvious that all manufacturing was going overseas. So I decided to retool myself. I’d heard from an RN friend that sonography was in demand, it pays well and that there was a school here in the Dallas County Community College District. She also said it was a good program and hard to get into. This sounded like something I would be interested in.“After some investigating, it was apparent that a person would need all A’s to get into the program. I already had a bachelor’s degree in engineering, but my grades weren’t quite “all A’s.” I had to retake the basics like English, speech and algebra. I had had four semesters of engineering calculus, and I still had to take algebra! Frankly, it’s hard to get A’s. I had to take every assignment seriously. After 34 hours of credit and the application process, I received my acceptance letter.
“It wasn’t easy going back to school at 42. The program presented a completely different kind of learning from what I was accustomed to in engineering school. I hadn’t had biology since I was a sophomore in high school. I had to reinvent myself, learn a whole different way to study, learn and think. In engineering, every piece of information built on the last one, and the process was very linear. In DMS school, I needed to learn a lot of different pieces of information, which didn’t seem to relate at the time. The body of knowledge for this career field is really very large.
“The truth is, it’s a hard program. My work is still sometimes very challenging. At the hospital, I’m part of a team where people really depend on my work. I do a study at the request of one doctor, I make my report, and a radiologist reviews my study and makes a report. The original doctor then acts on this report. There is a whole network of people that I work with and for. A good sonographer is definitely well appreciated.“I work nights and weekends exclusively. I could find myself really tired and frustrated doing a study at 3 a.m., but I always must ignore my own stress levels and concentrate on doing the work. El Centro’s program definitely prepared me for the rigors of the job; I was sleep-deprived and studying at 2 a.m., but I still needed to concentrate on my work and produce. “The demand for sonographers is very good. I feel confident that I could move to any city in the U.S. and work as a sonographer.“I won’t lie; getting into the program was hard. The program was hard. The first year of work was hard. The reward is a good, stable career which is fulfilling.”Jeff Kinney began his current position as a sonographer at Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake after a clinical rotation there in the practicum portion of the DMS program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Iowa, and he earned an associate degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at El Centro College in 2006. He has worked at Doctors Hospital since 2007. He is a registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS) in abdominal and ob/gyn and a registered vascular technologist (RVT).