Travel + Career Opportunities = A Sonographer’s Dream Job
“My job is so interesting because every patient I meet shares something new with me,” said Britton Highland, RT, M ARDMS, ABD, OB, RVT, who works as a traveling sonographer with Club Staffing. “I enjoy the scanning process and conversing with patients.”
And she has learned that you might discover something amazing during those patient conversations.
“Recently, while performing a scan on an elderly patient, I learned my grandfather saved his life!” Highland shared. “The patient had served in World War II and was deployed to the same European army division as my grandfather. He told me my grandfather saved his life by pulling him out of a bunker that a grenade had been tossed into.”
Her path to a sonography career
Highland became interested in sonography while employed as an X-ray and mammography technician. “Mammography and sonography correlate information to help patients who have breast masses. As I wanted to learn more about breast ultrasound, I decided to attend sonography school to become a certified sonographer,” she said.
Sonographers use sound wave technology to produce body images important to the diagnostic process. “Sonography is a multi-specialty profession, and through scanning we produce cardiac, abdominal and vascular scans. There’s an incredible amount of physics involved while trying to get the best picture of anatomy.”
Career motivators: Travel and learning opportunities
Highland started working with Club Staffing, an AMN Healthcare company, nine years ago when she was offered her first travel ultrasound job in Kansas City. “Kansas City is where my family lived and I wanted to be near them,” she explained. This Naples, Florida resident has since had the opportunity to work sonographer jobs in a number of locations around the country; she recently completed an assignment in Colorado and is looking forward to her next assignment at the Madison County General Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee.
“Travel provides a variety of learning experiences and I’ve enjoyed the idea of traveling across our country from one coast to another,” Highland said. “I’ve been to Napa, California, where I learned to make wine, and Key West, Florida, where I enjoyed fishing, boating and just sitting by the water to relax.”
She looks for diverse assignments that are interesting and add to her knowledge base. “It was exciting to be assigned at the Florida-based Cleveland Clinic,” she said. “ I worked with the best trained physicians in the country, experts in cardiac and vascular specialties. While assigned to the Kit Carson Memorial Hospital, a rural area located in Burlington, Colorado, I found out how rural care is done with no radiologists on site.”
During her 20-year career in healthcare, Highland has had opportunities to teach others while continuing her own learning process. After completing a required examination, she became a registered vascular technologist (RVT). “I enjoy learning and helping others to advance their knowledge and fine-tune their skills, especially those that concern vascular scans,” she said.
“It’s a good idea for sonographers to become registered in several ultrasound modalities because insurance companies (including Medicare and Medicaid) require that a registered sonographer be present. I’m registered in abdomen, OB, vascular and breast ultrasound modalities.”
The benefits of recruiter support
Recruiters not only help place allied travelers in their desired jobs, but they also help coordinate many of the details related to their contract--including the free housing and other benefits. They may serve as a traveler’s liaison or resident troubleshooter, if needed.
“My recruiter, Suzanne Cobb, is fabulous and always available. She does her best to answer my questions and concerns about my contract, or finds others who can do so,” Highland said. “Due to her interventions, I’m always employed and earn a manageable salary.”
The hallmark of successful travelers
A positive, flexible, cooperative attitude is an asset for health care professionals who travel, or are considering a travel career, Highland advised. “Embrace hospital staff and follow their lead, be open to new ideas that show staff you’re willing to learn by doing things differently than you’re used to,” she said. “Let’s say you’re asked to float to the OR instead of working within your department. Although you may need an attitude adjustment beforehand, be willing to go to the OR without complaint.”
Pictured above: Travel sonographer Britton Highland, shown on her Harley Davidson motorcycle in her home state of Florida, rented a motorcycle while on assignment in Colorado to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.