Can you describe your work/what you do in 1 sentence?
Perform and independently report on ultrasound images.
What did you want to be when you were at school?
When I was 16 years old, I completed a careers questionnaire that identified that I would be most suited to working in a caring profession. I researched allied health professions becauseI did not want to be either a doctor or a nurse.
That’s how I discovered radiography. When I left school, I trained as a radiographer and then later as an ultrasonographer (sonographer) as an extension to my role within radiology.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
Working with the obstetric consultants and specialist midwives in foetal medicine as part of a multidisciplinary team.
What are the main factors that frustrate you at work?
Being short staffed
How would you sell your career to a young person?
The role of a sonographer is extremely varied and one that you can build on continually once qualified. There are multiple areas in which you can extend your practice depending on where your interests lie.
What has been your biggest career challenge?
Learning to break bad news to prospective parents following an obstetric ultrasound scan. Foetal demise is difficult at any time, but in the third trimester or at term, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. The shock for the pregnant woman is immense.
The way in which she is given the bad news will remain with her forever, so it has to be given with the utmost empathy accompanied by sincere condolences on the loss of the baby. Foetal abnormality is also a challenging area. Parents do not attend for scans thinking that they are going to be given the news that there is something wrong with their baby.
How do you remember your student days?
I lived in the nurses’ home and there were 15 of us in our year. We lived, studied and worked together. We are still friends now and have regular reunions. Most still work within radiology departments all over the country in a variety of disciplines – MRI, CT, fluoroscopy, and as reporting radiographers.
What was your first job?
I became a diagnostic radiographer covering maternity leave at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (now part of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust). I still remember the smell of the breweries – loved it! My first permanent job was as a radiographer at Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, north-west London.
As lead sonographer, what do you have to do in addition to ultrasound scanning?
I co-manage the ultrasound department with another lead sonographer and our deputy lead. This involves overseeing the ultrasound service across two sites (Hillingdon Hospital in Uxbridge as well as Mount Vernon), the purchasing and maintenance of equipment, and managing scan lists and the scan service.
On top of that, I oversee everything to do with the management and recruitment of sonographers and support staff, audit and governance.
How is your team made up?
Our team includes around 17 full and part-time staff. There is a national shortage of sonographers, so we are almost constantly training and on the lookout for new staff.
How do you split the work with your co-lead sonographer?
I lead the management of the maternity ultrasound service which is solely based at Hillingdon, and the other lead sonographer manages the general ultrasound service. Our deputy lead works across both services deputising for us as necessary.
What qualities do you think you need to do your job well?
In-depth knowledge of scan protocols and the ability to treat every patient with dignity and empathy as the situation requires.
What 3 words would your colleagues use to describe you?
Hard working, dedicated, knowledgeable.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient or work colleague?
Treat every patient as you would expect to be treated yourself.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Diversify and learn as much as you can in as many different areas of scanning as you are able.
What do you do to relax/de-stress?
Go walking in the countryside.
What do you hope will be your legacy to your profession and colleagues?
I hope to leave the profession having made a difference to how young sonographers think about patient care, to their expertise and having encouraged them to take pride in what they do.
Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare?
It’s a dream. I have worked for a long time now and feel that when it ends in a few years’ time, I will have “done my bit” for the NHS – time to hand over the baton!
Do you have a morning routine?
Cup of tea in bed and solving the daily Wordle.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert – born that way.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Chocolate before dinner.
Terri Hodgkinson began her radiography training in 1985 at (the then) School of Radiography at the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary.She qualified as a diagnostic radiographer in 1988 and her first substantive post was at Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, north-west London.
She studied ultrasound at King’s College hospital in London from 1992 to 1994, with practical training at Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust. After qualifying as a sonographer in 1994, she worked at Hillingdon and for a short time at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in west London.
After having children, she worked as a temporary sonographer at various central London teaching hospitals, including University College, The Royal London and St Mary’s, before taking a 10-year break to raise her family. She returned to a permanent role in 2010, taking up a part-time post at Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust. Terri was promoted to deputy lead sonographer in January 2016, and lead sonographer in March 2017.