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ADVANCE for Imaging and Radiation Therapy Professionals | Editorial
Now an ultrasound practitioner at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Tena Hayes Lechtanski, RT, RVT, RCDS, RDMS, began her career in ultrasound largely by accident.
"I had just finished my X-ray training and was hired into the radiology department at Blodgett Hospital
in Grand Rapids, Mich., where I trained.As great fortune would have it, the hospital wanted to start an ultrasound lab and needed to send someone away to learn sonography," she
said."Being single with no responsibilities made me a perfect candidate." Lechtanski went to the University of Oklahoma for training and came back to start the lab at Blodgett.
At that time, there was only one other ultrasound lab in Michigan, at Hutzel Hospital
in Detroit.Registered in abdomen, OB-GYN, adult echo, neuro and vascular technology, Lechtanski went on to work at the University of Michigan Medical Center, where she has been for 31 years.Beginning her career as a staff sonographer, Lechtanski managed the ultrasound department there for more than 20 years and recently traveled a new path by becoming an ultrasound practitioner when the position was created three years ago.
"As a manager I had few opportunities to make a direct impact in the clinical care of patients.As a practitioner, I help the sonographer performing the exam to provide the correct examâ€"requests for exams are frequently vagueâ€"by searching the medical record or by direct contact with the physician.I also provide the sonographer technical tips to help improve the images, if necessary," Lechtanski
Being the initial person to dictate the report saves the radiologist a great deal of time, especially when doing comparisons with prior studies, she
also facilitates care for the patients.After the radiologist has reviewed the exam with her, Lechtanski provides the ordering physician with a verbal report for those cases where it is important to share timely information.
With time, Lechtanski
said, acceptance of this occupation will grow.
"In the future I can see practitioners working in large group practices, where physicians are covering many areas simultaneously.Just as nurse practitioners and physician assistants work independent from physicians, ultrasound practitioners would function as the front line image reviewers and report providers, with a physician available to assist in more difficult cases," she
said."With that type of responsibility, a national or state certification or license would likely be necessary."In addition to her duties as ultrasound practitioner, Lechtanski is a member of the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography and the American Roentgen Ray Society.She is also a practice accreditation reviewer for the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and has served on the board of the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
For sonographers who want to be licensed or certified, education is a must, Lechtanski