When reflecting on her postgraduate studies, Alison Deslandes, calls her qualification a ‘golden ticket’. Having completed her Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science (Nuclear Medicine) she was keen to gain her accreditation, while also working full-time, and so enrolled externally and part-time in the Graduate Diploma, “When I began training as a sonographer I wanted to study a Masters but it would have taken me longer to get my accreditation, so I studied the Graduate Diploma in Medical Sonography since I could get my accreditation then return to complete Masters later.”
Having moved interstate at the time, Alison considered other universities, “I found out I would have to repeat courses from my Graduate Diploma once I was ready to do Masters. That’s why I chose UniSA, as the Graduate Diploma forms part of the Master’s degree and it’s very much designed to be studied at your own pace.”
With flexibility of external study appealing, she admits the online aspect is what helped to keep her study on track, “The online learning environment was great. Most courses required us to participate in discussions or blogs online which was a nice way to interact with other students. External study can be isolating and it can be easy to receive a study guide and ignore it until half way through the study period. Having 24/7 access to the online environment meant you could engage with the work more frequently which helped keep me on track.”
UniSA Program Director for Medical Sonography, Dr Nayana Parange, says the advantage of offering these programs online, externally and part-time, is that professionals are able to continue working in the industry and build skills and knowledge to supplement their studies. “As an online teacher, I am a facilitator and a mentor - I guide students to learn at their own pace. Having designed the courses drawing upon my clinical experiences and industry links, students get to experience and immerse themselves in authentic tasks and real world ‘messy’ clinical situations and dilemmas.”
Alison agrees, saying “I also found the study materials great, I’ve kept all of them and often refer back to them when I need a refresh on something for work.”
Work, for Alison, is now at the Royal Adelaide Hospital where she provides ultrasound services to hospital patients while also coordinating the hospital’s sonographer training program. Alongside these commitments, she also works for a sonographer owned practice called Specialist Imaging Partners, focusing on specialised obstetric, gynaecological and paediatric ultrasound.
“I have developed some niche skills and, as such, have some scanning skills highly sort after by specialist doctors. For example, I'm one of only two sonographers in Adelaide who perform high level detailed scanning for endometriosis surgical planning.”
Alison acknowledges that the roots of her career success are in her study, saying “My Masters degree gave me the higher levels skills needed to really push the boundaries in my work.”