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School of Health represented at state sonography conference

Sobia Azam, Andrea Ulland and Mollie Kelly stand behind Laura Foty (all ’12) in a classroom on the Minneapolis campus.
Sobia Azam, Andrea Ulland and Mollie Kelly stand behind Laura Foty (all ’12) in a classroom on the Minneapolis campus.
Melissa Kaelin

Networking with students, working professionals and experts from the medical field, students from the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health attended a statewide seminar on sonography from March 25-27 in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

The 31st Annual Spring Seminar of the Minnesota Society of Diagnostic Ultrasound offered opportunities for development in diagnostic ultrasound on three different tracts. Participants could attend the general ultrasound program or choose from a cardiac ultrasound program or a vascular ultrasound program.

A real-world view
St. Kate’s students closely followed the general tract, expanding their knowledge in areas ranging from the evaluation of pelvic pain and imaging of the native kidney or liver to the evaluation of the appendix and imaging of the renal transplant.

“It was very interesting,” said Sobia Azam ‘12. She said the group interfaced with students at all levels, from undergrads to professionals who were there for continuing education units. “We could see a real difference with every year of study,” she said.

Students also participated in a new hands-on scanning session for students on Friday night. The session was created to give students experience scanning in a low-stress environment with the guidance of an experienced sonographer. Students had the opportunity to scan a boy’s appendix, a pregnant woman’s womb and a human heart.

An interdisciplinary approach
Under the leadership of Program Director of Sonography Susan D. Nelson-Hummel, MAEd, RDMS, and Assistant Professor of Physics Erick Agrimson, students conducted interdisciplinary research projects ahead of the seminar.

They worked closely with both professors on the fringes of class time to conduct research projects on the Physics of the Ultrasound, with support from sonography faculty Barbara Goodell and Tammi Wiesner. Desktop Publisher Saundra Huntley helped the students to form their final projects, and then the posters were submitted for judging at the seminar.

Agrimson said he began teaching Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentation in 2006. The course not only offered him a channel where he could incorporate his medical background, but it also offered students a chance to understand more fully the medical technology used in their work.

“It’s all about the physics behind what they scan,” Agrimson said.

Since 2007, he has been working with Nelson-Hummel to bring students to the annual seminar of the Minnesota Society of Diagnostic Ultrasound, and last year, the duo even took two students to the national conference.

In preparation for the seminar this year, students began working on their projects in January, before the start of the current semester. They met with their professors frequently to ensure they were gathering the right types of information, and they worked closely with medical device companies to inform their work.

Andrea Ulland ’12 said her team did research on the new X5-1 xMatrix array transducer by Phillips Medical.

According to Phillips Medical, the X5-1 transducer helps remove barriers to 3D imaging, giving clinicians the power to choose 2D, 3D or combination imaging without disrupting their workflow.

“We worked a lot on getting in contact with Phillips,” said Ulland.

By working with the medical device company, her team was able to get specific information on the scientific technology embedded in the transducer works, though some information was of a proprietary nature and could not be released by the company. Through her project, Ulland and her partner shared the technological information with the audiences at the conference. She said the technology was interesting because it could give clients a three-dimensional view of the ultrasound in live time, and feature different section cuts of the body.

Award-winning research
Each of the posters summarizing a research project was judged during the Minnesota Society of Diagnostic Ultrasound conference. High-quality entries were received from all of the competing organizations, and St. Catherine University was no exception.

Laura Bernhardson, Rachel Renn, and Allyssa Van Guilder (all '12) worked on a research project called “Crossover: Images from Optics and Ultrasound.” As part of the project, they worked to answer the question, “Do ultrasound waves create the same image artifacts as light waves?” The resulting poster garnered an honorable mention from the conference judges.

“We’ve always done really well and we are proud of the work that has been done by our sonography students,” said Agrimson. He said alumnae who attended the conference were also impressed by the quality of the work presented by St. Kate’s students — as well as the quality of work by other students. “They were blown away. The quality was just phenomenal.”

Overall, St. Kate’s students said the conference was a valuable learning experience. In addition to taking in new information that had not yet been covered in their courses, the students were able to network and ask questions of working sonography professionals.

Confidence for a career
Mollie Kelly ’12 said interfacing with other professionals and continuing education students at the conference brought her renewed confidence in pursuing her degree.

“For me, it was kind of cool to know that these continuing education professionals could master all the terms. It’s a lot of work,” she said. She said in this way, she also felt reassured about the career path that will follow her graduation next year. “It’s such a vast amount of information. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored,” she said.

April 1, 2011 by Melissa Kaelin

See also: Healthcare, Leadership, Students