Empowering Students in Ultrasound

Amanda Marland from the University of Cumbria has written some Top Tips on Empowering Students in Ultrasound:

1)  Align expectations at the start of each session.  ‘Observing’ can be regarded as a ‘sub-optimal learning experience’ to some ultrasound students who are highly motivated and keen to get ‘hands-on’.  Discussing what a student hopes to gain from a particular session (or their specific learning needs at that moment in time) helps to tailor sessions to specifically targeted areas.  If it is unlikely that a ‘new student’ will get much ‘hands on’ during a session (owing to caseload)– align yours and your student’s expectations at the beginning of the session and ensure that the student attempts to visualise at least a specific aspect of the examination they may be finding challenging. 

2)  Two-way critique!  In a two-way process, alternating between observation and practical application, questions can emerge relating to technique and a ‘critical friend’ approach can be used to ensure that the process is beneficial to both student and mentor. 

3)  Providing honest and constructive feedback is often one of the most challenging parts of working with a student.  Self-assessment is often a perfect starting point for providing feedback.  “How do you think that went?” Students will often be overly self-critical and are often able to analyse their own performance during a scan without too much prompting.  This can help to make the basis for a detailed ‘action plan’ for moving forward.

4)  Dual approach.  If a student sonographer lacks confidence, work with them to make the task seem more manageable, breaking down the specific scan into manageable ‘chunks’ can often make it seem less daunting in early stages of training.

5)  Remember how it feels to have ‘walked the path’ sharing how you felt when you were a student makes the mentor seem more empathetic and approachable. 

6)  Include Praise alongside constructive criticism …. It is all too easy for a student to concentrate on the negatives. 

7)  Two students peer reviewing each other can be beneficial (under the supervision of one mentor) almost like a ‘pilot-co-pilot’ situation.