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The experience of newly qualified sonographers: A case study design

Phillips, Rita



Over the last two decades, ultrasound imaging and practice has undergone a significant transformation shaped by political, cultural, sociological, technological and educational influences. Furthermore, the continual rise in the demand for ultrasound examinations is outstripping supply. This has had several reverberations and ramifications for the dynamics, constitution and wellbeing of the sonography workforce. Moreover, the adoption of ultrasound technology by various professionals has resulted in professional fission and fusion with both vertical and horizontal substitution within this heterogeneous workforce. It is against this backdrop that newly qualified sonographers enter the workforce. One under-researched area is an understanding of the experiences of these newest members of this multi-disciplinary workforce.

A case study methodology was utilised which explored the experiences of newly qualified sonographers in their first year of ultrasound practice. The newly qualified sonographers were from a multi-disciplinary background. A conceptual framework was initially developed to guide the discovery phase of this research. Data was collected from eleven participants using face to face interviews and work diaries. The data sets were analysed using thematic analysis. The findings of the research were then embedded into the conceptual framework.

Three main overarching themes from eight subthemes were identified, namely; transition, role development and maintaining competency and credibility. The knowledge and understanding generated has broader benefits not only for the individual professional but also for ultrasound educational curricula, individual organisations and professional bodies. Experiences of newly qualified sonographers can be improved by developing specific preceptorship programmes in the initial period of transition whilst drawing upon theories such as cognitive apprenticeship and situated learning to facilitate role development after qualification. For organisations with a multidisciplinary ultrasound workforce, the fostering of communities of practice should be encouraged as a social learning environment. These strategies will promote the future role and development of the sonographer and create a greater sense of professional pride, belonging and security whilst supporting both uni-professional and cross-boundary ultrasound working.


Phillips, R. The experience of newly qualified sonographers: A case study design. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Keywords sonographers, ultrasound, radiography, sonography, midwives
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