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Cardiac SonographerChildren’s Medical Center
“I was a police officer for five years, mostly with the Denton County Sheriff’s Department, and then I was a stay-at-home mom. When I became pregnant with twins — my fourth and fifth children — I had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and spent a lot of time in the sonographer’s office at Presbyterian Hospital in Plano. I kept pointing out things to the doctor, who finally said, ‘You seem to be really good at this; why don’t you consider going back to school and make it a career?’ He told me about El Centro and said that’s the only college they’d hire echocardiographers from.
“One twin died, but the other beat the odds. I also lost a sister who died at 6 of a congenital heart defect, so I understand the importance of heart health. Once I found this field as a career, I pursued it gung-ho. I was lucky to have the support and encouragement of my family — and, in fact, three of my four kids want to be doctors now.
“The quality of the program was absolutely wonderful. I had the chance to be side by side with students who had been in another program, and they just hadn’t had the attention to the development of the profession that we got at El Centro. They were essentially having to retrain — one of them told me he was $45,000 in debt from school and still couldn’t get a job. On the other hand, after graduating from El Centro, I walked into two hospitals looking for a job, and neither one would let me go.
“The most important thing was that El Centro’s program didn’t train us to be just picture takers. They taught us to be advocates for the patient and to know what things to look for. I know for a fact that I’ve been able to point out things that are vital to a patient’s care. It makes us feel good when we can be a doctor’s eyes. We don’t try to be doctors — but we make sure that the doctors see what we think is important to see. We have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders.
“They taught us to take things one step further and play detective, to find the source of the problem. It’s an incredible and exciting job.”
Laura Martho earned an associate degree in Cardiac Sonography from El Centro College in May 2008. She was hired by both St. Paul and Parkland hospitals as a cardiac sonographer after doing her clinical rotations there. She then completed El Centro College’s pilot Pediatric Cardiac Sonography program and now works at Children’s Medical Center.