Anne Hurlestone

The inspiration for me within the world of ultrasound is the continual learning environment…there is always a patient who presents with some unseen pathology regardless of your experience. No resting on your laurels when working in the field of ultrasound.

I was enticed as a 3rd year Radiography Student during an elective in Ultrasound. A static B scanner with a long heavy cable draped around the sonographer’s neck revealing a grainy image of a patient’s thyroid gland, a new inspirational world revolving around pattern recognition was about to unfold.

As well as the fascinating patients who make our working day so interesting and rewarding there are the inspirational teachers along the way; Sonographers, Tutors and Radiologists.

Terrifying at times when instructed as a student to scan a patient, take no images just scan and write down the pathology …your two minutes starts now; upon discovering three related pathologies I felt duly satisfied…. no go back and find the other two pathologies I was told. It was undoubtedly a steep learning curve.

Whilst revising for my final ultrasound exams I was still working in the X-ray Department and participating in a gruelling on call rota. A certain Saturday in April I was on call when I watched the scene unfold on television at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. Full alert followed with the MAJAX procedure implemented…what an emotional day. A few highs being able to call a relative in Liverpool to say that their son was alive and well, the switchboard was overloaded, no mobile ‘phones or social media to contact loved ones.

So my last few weeks in the X-ray Department were spent in a sea of red in the Critical Care Unit X-raying the football fans.

I was lucky to work in Ultrasound at a time when if you had a transducer in your hand you scanned any part of the body, any lump; yes we all scanned Parotid glands, Achilles tendons, the ganglion, the bowel etc. These days there is a business case, university course, exams, summative and formative assessments, protocols to adhere to and indeed this is correct for the benefit of the patient and I’m sure a formally trained sonographer is more competent than the old inquisitive sonographer with the scan and see approach.

And so my Ultrasound career continued in a positive and happy mode digressing into the field of management more relaxed times with a few pages of written departmental guidelines no FASP, NICE, Green Top, RCOG etc guidelines to follow but ultimately missing the patient so after several years I returned to a rewarding clinical role.

Way back in 1995 I had the privilege of writing the News and Views column in The BMUS journal and in one article I had the temerity to rant about the shortage of sonographers, well somethings never change. I would challenge anyone to enter the field of Ultrasound and not to be rewarded.

Happy Scanning!