The #SonographersSaveLives campaign is an ongoing communications initiative designed to increase awareness, understanding and appreciation of the profession of diagnostic medical sonography. Employers, governments, the public, and sonographers will receive our message, not just during this pandemic, or during Sonography Week, but all year long.
Purpose of the campaign
This campaign seeks to obtain the recognition for sonographers that they deserve. We are not looking for applause or a pat on the back, but rather acknowledgement, recognition and appreciation that sonographers are well-trained medical professionals with unique skills, competencies and challenges, who serve as essential frontline members of the healthcare team.
What we want you to know
Sonographers are ultrasound experts who practice a unique and specialized medical profession.
While most Canadians are familiar with the term “ultrasound”, few of them know that those who practice the profession are formally called diagnostic medical sonographers.
Sonographers are part of a branch of the medical field called diagnostic imaging and we are responsible for capturing internal images of the body for medical purposes. Unlike X-ray, CT or MRI technicians who rely on radiation to capture images, sonographers conduct medical investigations using high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to capture images and assess organs, tissues, and blood flow inside the body. Simply put, we are medical detectives, using our ultrasound training, technical skills and understanding of the human body and its systems to help physicians decide if structures are normal.
Sonographers are essential members of Canada’s healthcare team.
While most Canadians are familiar with the use of ultrasound during pregnancies, many may not realize that we also support many other medical disciplines and that we are employed in various healthcare facilities.
We are proud of the work we do to support obstetrics, but we also support sports medicine, heart and lung health, as well as women’s and men’s health in general. Sonography is used with patients of all ages, for many different reasons – from bumps and bruises, cancers and tumours, as well as expectant mothers.
Thanks to the images that sonographers capture, doctors are able to appropriately diagnose, treat and manage a patient’s health. As a result, diagnostic medical sonographers have a direct role in saving lives.
Sonographers are essential workers on the frontlines of Canada’s healthcare system
Sonography involves direct, and sometimes prolonged, contact with patients and is a vital part of the diagnostic and treatment process. This puts us directly on the frontline of healthcare.
Diagnostic imaging professionals are not always shown the same recognition as other healthcare professionals and, as sonographers, we are at a higher risk of exposure to disease (such as COVID-19) due to our close proximity to the patient during a scan. Unlike X-rays and MRIs, ultrasound examinations do not comply with Health Canada recommendations for social distancing during the pandemic. A 2-meter spatial separation between the patient and the sonographer is not possible.
In addition, ultrasound examinations may involve extended periods of exposure to the patient, typically taking a minimum of 20 minutes to complete. There is no escaping the very hands-on nature of the procedures whether it is an echocardiogram, lung scan, or any other ultrasound examination of a COVID-positive patient, or those with other urgent conditions.
Our skillsets are particularly crucial during a pandemic given the noninvasive, cost-effective, and portable nature of the procedures. Even so, sonographers have been left out of frontline considerations including the Ontario government’s pandemic compensation for essential healthcare workers.
Sonography Canada is the national voice for sonographers across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly highlighted that there is a lack of awareness, understanding and appreciation for what we do and this campaign has been launched to try and change that. This campaign is asking that we be consulted and be invited to the table so that the voice of Canadian sonographers is heard and considered when the federal and provincial governments are developing health policies and regulations that touch on and impact diagnostic medical sonography.
Sonography involves different physical requirements and poses different challenges than those of other diagnostic medical imaging professions
In addition to the close and prolonged physical contact with patients that put us more at risk of contagion or transmission of disease, particularly during a pandemic, a recent membership survey clearly revealed additional work-related areas of concern.
The nature of ultrasound exams involves repeated physical exertion which often leads to repetitive strain injuries (RSI). These injuries have an impact on sonographers’ careers and on healthcare operations and costs. We strive to emphasize the importance of ergonomics and the practical application of best practices for everyday scanning to help reduce and, ideally eliminate, RSI and other work-related injuries in our profession.
Survey participants also expressed concerns about contradictory demands and unrealistic expectations. While employers call for reduced scan times, there is also increased demand for more detailed scans. The perception is that the increase in demand is being made despite staff shortages, increasingly large and more complex patients, as well as budget cuts. At the end of they day, it’s the patient who suffers most.
This campaign is a tangible and effective way to support our members and to address the contradictory demands of increased productivity in the workplace and unrealistically high expectations from both employers and patients.
One of the key goals of this campaign is to provide our members with the information and resources they can use to advocate and promote their contribution, their profession and their needs within their workplace and community.
How you can get involved
This webinar, delivered by Huw Williams, President of Impact Public Relations, will give you the ideas and strategies to help you advocate for yourself and your profession in the workplace and in the community. The live session hosted on October 9, 2020 will be available as a recording in our video library. We invite you to view the session and add your voice to ours in the promotion of your profession.
Download the file and print this sticker on standard labels so you can display this message proudly on your uniform, your shield, your clipboard, your notebook, etc.
Download the file and update your Facebook profile so all your online Friends will know that you are a diagnostic medical sonographer and that you are an essential member of Canada’s healthcare team.
Our “new normal” has most Canadians engaging in online video conference chats and meetings. We invite you to download and use one of these backdrops for your upcoming online interactions. After all, you are an important face and voice of our profession! Click on the image you prefer to download your new Zoom background.
Social Media Shareables
We invite you to add your voice to ours by posting and sharing our social media messages on your corporate and/or personal social media accounts. Every voice counts! Let yours be heard! Download the following images available in various formats adapted for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. .