inPractice - Summer 2018 - 18



The history of PA College's
sonography program reaches back
to 1973. Bob Hess (pictured above), then
a student of Lancaster General Hospital's
x-ray program, was invited to join Dr.
William Young for a week of training in
this brand new modality at Episcopal
Hospital in Philadelphia - believed to
be the first such training in Pennsylvania.
After that, a Picker EchoView 8 (top right),
the first machine that could produce crosssectional views of anatomy, was delivered
to the radiography department, and just
like that, the sonography department at
LGH was up and running.
Not only was this a new piece of
equipment, sonography presented an
entirely new way of looking at the human
body. There was very little reference
information on cross-sectional anatomy
at the time, so as a result, most of what
Bob and his peers learned was self-taught
through on-the-job experience. "When
a patient had an abdominal x-ray that
demonstrated a possible abnormality, we
would also scan them with ultrasound to
see if we could identify the pathology,"
he explained. In 1975, Bob became the
169th person in the country to pass the
first registry exam in sonography offered
by the American Registry of Diagnostic
18 inPractice | SUMMER 2018

Medical Sonographers. (Today, over 90,000 or if there are any abnormalities present,
sonographers are registered.)
which can be very subtle. Sometimes it's an
easy task, but sometimes it requires very
To meet staffing needs for this growing
focused scanning and a lot of effort.
field, LGH began a sonography training
program in 1982, under the direction of
"Imagine that you turn off all the lights
Bob. After completing LGH's two-year
in the living room. Using a flashlight, you
x-ray program, students could complete a
have to take a picture of everything in the
third year to train in ultrasound imaging.
room, and then hand those pictures off
This in-the-trenches program trained
to someone else who has to give a report
students directly in the clinical field, with
to decide whether or not this is a normal
a custom-made curriculum based on
living room. So you shine the light on the
bits and pieces of textbook information,
couch, and get a picture. The coffee table,
training materials and clinical know-how.
the TV, the lamp - you get a picture of
The hospital-based program continued
each of those. You think you've gotten
until the early 2000s, when it became an
a picture of everything you needed, but
associate degree program at the newly
you missed something - the overturned
accredited Lancaster General College of
trashcan in the corner.
Nursing & Health Sciences.
"That's what it's like to be a sonogapher.
Bob stayed on as the Program Chair
You have to get all the pictures the
for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography
radiologist needs to give the report. A
Program until his retirement in 2011,
successful sonographer will use persistence
helping mint new professionals in the
and determination to go beyond the
discipline he devoted his career to. To get
checklist and use their critical thinking
at the crux of sonography, Bob explains:
and knowledge to get to the cause of the
patient's symptoms - the overturned
"A sonographer must be skilled in
trashcan in the corner. That's what we as
ultrasound imaging, and must be
instructors and staff sonographers need
knowledgeable in both normal and
to model for our students, and we need to
abnormal anatomy. The goal is to
give them the opportunities to learn these
determine if the patient's exam is normal


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