Meet Fabiola Harden, Ultrasound Technician
I chose this career path from very little. I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, I finished high school and after high school I decided, I’ve gone to school for a long time already, I’m going to just try and make some money. So I did waitressing for about six months and then I decided, no, we are going back to the medical field, I can’t be a waitress for the rest of my life. So I went to a vocational school which was, I believe, a little bit over a year.
The vocational school was for front office specialists. So basically in the medical field but not poking or needles because I initially thought I wanted to be a nurse and that didn’t work out for me because I can’t do needles. So I decided I went to this vocational school so I could do more billing and scheduling and front office, answering phones, things like that. So I did my externship at a cardiologist’s office and I loved it. And I stayed in cardiology, I was able to do some training for back-office. Did some EKGs, stress testing. And then I had an opportunity to go even further to school. Our ultrasound technician was going to retire. I was able to continue and go to school.
I went to a program for cardiology specifically, ultrasound. Finished my schooling there, I was able to have her train me and then I took over her job as an ultrasound technician. I went to a vocational program at a community college specifically for cardiology, ultrasound. After one year you can be a junior ultrasound technologist. I did a two-year program so once I was done after my externship I was able to get a title of a senior ultrasound technologist. And then if you go further and get your boards you get registered as cardiac stenographer.
The best piece of advice I would give to somebody that wants to be in the medical field would be to search maybe different types of things that you can do in the medical field, not necessarily just a nurse. Which a nurse is great to be, I would’ve loved to do it if I liked to do needles and pokes. But I didn’t want to so I was able to do a little bit more search and figure out that obviously in cardiology you can do front office; so scheduling, phones, you can do medical assisting, you can do EKG work with patients or you can do ultrasound technology like I did and just do ultrasounds of the heart. Which is great to do for patient care but you don’t have to poke them.
In the field that I am doing that I am at now, the program that I was in was a very specific program. You had to go through an interview process, they had 20 to 25 people in the program. And after every semester if you didn’t pass one of the classes you were out. So you had to complete the program completely to be able to finish and then get the job. So you could totally mess up your chances by not doing your work, not passing the classes, not being able to attend the classes. It was a program in San Francisco specifically and I worked in Stockton. So I had to commute. So obviously if I missed too many days that would make my chances of not passing the program a little bit more difficult. So if you don’t pass your classes, if you don’t do your work, you cannot do the program and that will mess up the chances of doing the boards which you have to do after you complete the program.
If you wanted to do ultrasound and you weren’t sure what type of ultrasound you wanted to do, I believe all the programs are the same – either one or two years that with senior ultrasound technology either in cardiology or not. So junior or senior technologist with one or two years of training, everybody would have to get certified depending on the field that you are in. But most jobs require you to become a certified or board-certified technician so you would complete the program either one-year or two-year, depending on whatever body type or area that you are specifically looking for. And then once you are done you would go and get registered and then have that specialty. So even for me, I don’t scan babies. I have in the past but I can further my education if I wanted to and get registered as a pediatric cardiac stenographer. Or if I wanted to do fetal, which is scan mothers that are pregnant and expecting their child, the babies can have issues with the heart so I can go and get registered as a fetal stenographer if I wanted to. Or if I decided to do – maybe I didn’t want to do hearts anymore and I want to do something else, I could do that further and get specialized in that. So you can always go further and have more, you just have to do more schooling.
The best thing about my day, I honestly love working with patients. I always have. So every day is different and not everybody’s hearts are the same. Every heart is different. There’s good hearts, there’s strong hearts, there’s abnormal hearts. I like working with patients on the floor or outpatient or we do even stress testing. But I like being – invasively we have been able to incorporate ourselves more in the Cath Lab so we are able to do more invasive procedures. So I have gotten the opportunity to go into the OR and be able to see the procedures and the operating room which is even more – that’s more than you can do in a regular office. Because you can work at an office but you will never see surgeries. In a hospital you are able to see surgeries and procedures and all sorts of stuff. So being able to cross into the invasive world and not necessarily have to open the patient myself is even more awesome. So it’s very exciting. Every day is different and it’s new and some days are stressful but it’s very exciting.