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The Oregon Institute of Technology
in Klamath Falls.

A rural college producing ultrasound experts

By Debbie McCollam
From the June 2018 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

The fragmented, underserved, and depressed financial circumstances of rural healthcare leave a large imprint on rural populations.

Most of us in the healthcare profession know there are big strides to make in rural healthcare initiatives. Because of the way they improve quality and expedite care, technology initiatives, especially those involving increased and improved ultrasound services, are needed now, more than ever.
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The need for access to ultrasound technology is not only an issue for rural healthcare. With the growth in number of diagnostic medical sonography procedures, and the rapid advancements in technology, the demand for skilled sonographers is on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth rate for diagnostic medical sonography is exponentially higher than other industry fields.

For those of us who are educators, these needs and growth prospects will not only increase the number of students we teach and train, they will also demand that we continue to innovate in our classrooms and clinical settings. Meeting the rural need and healthcare demand for ultrasound experts begins with a bold and cutting-edge education at the intersection of medicine and technology.

Oregon Institute of Technology, better known as Oregon Tech, is in a unique position as one of the few institutions in the nation (and the only in the state of Oregon) to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Echocardiography and Vascular Technology.

One of our top priorities has been to integrate state-of-the-art technology initiatives into all stages of the curriculum. At Oregon Tech, ultrasound education has long relied on industry partnerships to train our students to be experts in the latest technology. Most recently, we acquired twenty-five new Mindray DC-8 Exp high-performance ultrasound systems to make sure students have access to equipment that matches the best available in healthcare settings. The Oregon Tech-Mindray partnership, which extends beyond equipment acquisition and installation to include ongoing service and applications support, is a way to bring the real world of healthcare into the classroom. This allows students to develop advanced technical skills and expertise in the latest technology that is immediately applicable and easily translated into an actual healthcare setting.

Many ultrasound programs continue to rely on second-hand systems to train future providers. We have found that seeking out and prioritizing industry partnerships with medical technology suppliers to enable access to new systems not only enhances the education students receive, but also benefits the healthcare landscape more generally. The access students have to top of the line technology prepares them to be leaders in their field. Ultrasound experts who understand the latest technology can produce some of the best diagnostic outcomes, from higher image quality to the acquisition of real-time volumes of tissue.
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