Kristy Sweeney, RDCS

Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer, UT Southwestern University Hospitals, and Adjunct Faculty, El Centro College Diagnostic Medical Sonography

“I was in restaurant management for several years. My husband worked in the airline industry, and after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, we suddenly had no guaranteed income. I was working late nights and not seeing my family.

“I started looking into sonography and was excited about a career in this field. Health care appealed to me because I wanted the personal interaction and liked the idea of helping people. Sonography was naturally interesting to me because I was pregnant at the time, having sonograms and I began to be interested in it as a career choice. When we began studying the heart in my classes, I knew that’s where I wanted to specialize. Learning about the detail and intricacy of the heart really engaged me.

“This field is a good fit for me — I have the flexibility to choose my work schedule, and I have more job security than I ever had before. I also love the interaction with patients and doctors. Cardiac Sonography offers a closer working relationship with the doctors than I have found in other imaging fields. I have had the opportunity to work one-on-one with the cardiologists in the cath lab, operating room and with heart pump (LVAD) patients. I have worked at the top of the field on cutting-edge procedures such as catheter-placed mitral clips, catheter-placed aortic valves (TAVR), LVAD ramp studies, 3D/4D and so much more!

“Since graduation, I have had many opportunities to come back and talk to El Centro classes about all of these experiences plus lab accreditation and registry preparation. I was able to step in and teach in the program on an adjunct basis during a staffing shortage and eventually took the position on a permanent basis. I enjoy teaching cardiac sonography because I am passionate about it and I love sharing that passion! There’s so much going on with the heart — it’s a moving organ, and it’s really exciting.

“Cardiac Sonography is an engaging, growing process where you continually learn and never get bored. And there’s plenty of room for advancement and flexibility. It’s wonderful to be in a field where I can choose my work setting. I have worked as a technical director of a lab in a doctors’ office, as a lead sonographer in a large hospital and now as the clinical coordinator of the Cardiac Sonography program.

“I would highly recommend this program with one caution — it’s intense. But if you dedicate one year to it, the payoff on the other side is really worth it. It’s life-changing. That one year was a struggle for me, but the reward has been immeasurable! I could not have imagined the degree of positive changes that have come to my life, and the lives of my children, thanks to this program.

“Once you’ve completed this program, you’ve gotten a top-notch education, and you realize that you are stepping into this field with the knowledge and tools you need to be successful. It can be really scary to step out of school and into the workplace, especially when you’re dealing with people’s health. But once I realized that the education and skills I had gained in the past year had prepared me completely, it gave me a confidence to do my job that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Kristy Sweeney earned an associate degree in Cardiac Sonography from El Centro College in May 2007 and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in echocardiography online through the Oregon Institute of Technology.

Kristy applied for a position that was posted at El Centro and was hired while she was still a student in the Diagnostic Sonography program. She went to work for doctors Koster, Myers, Chung and Garcia in their private practice located in Baylor University Medical Center. She completed the accreditation of their echocardiography lab while employed as their technical director. She has worked at Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern University Hospitals as a lead sonographer and is currently the clinical coordinator of the Cardiac Sonography program at El Centro College. She is a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (ARDMS).