Katherine Pham: Faculty Spotlight
Meet Katherine Pham BS, RDMS, RVT
I know you’re a DMS instructor. What do you teach specifically here at CBD College?
Right now I’m teaching Abdomen and Small Parts Ultrasound. Abdomen includes all the major organs in the abdominal cavity including the liver, pancreas, kidney, gall bladder, and spleen. Small Parts includes thyroid, breasts, scrotum, and prostate.
In my opinion, it is the hardest module to learn because there is so much regarding anatomy, pathology, and then learning to look at each of the organs themselves. Since the students practice on each other in lab, many are NPO (nothing-by-mouth) 8-12 hours before to get the best image possible. You have to know all the different techniques and tricks to maneuver around gas, or what to do if the patient is non-responsive.
Why made you interested in DMS?
I began my studies for Diagnostic Medical Sonography in 2010. Before that I had my Bachelor’s Degree in BioChemistry. I started my research and DMS sounded intriguing. It only takes a short period of time to graduate, but the average salary for an ultrasound technician is increasing. I studied, passed the board, and got my licenses as soon as I could. Every day there are new things to learn.
What led you to pursue instructing at CBD College?
I started teaching here November of 2013. I’ve loved teaching since I started the DMS. The first chance I had, I volunteered at my OBGYN doctor’s office to learn; he has an ultrasound machine there. So I began from day one. The day I entered the program was the day I started in the field.
While I was still in school, other students would come to me if they had a problem. My friends love my style of tutoring because of the way I explain things. My philosophy is, “Life is hard, why make it harder?” Make it easier so you can understand it! At the time I was in school I was a full-time student, worked for a pharmacy 30 hours a week, and had a 2- year- old and a 6– month- old at home– I didn’t have a lot of time to study. I needed to make the most of my time by memorizing and learning the best tips and tricks.
Many people look at Ultrasound and say “This is hard.” In my opinion, it’s not hard. If you can organize the information in a certain way, getting the best image is attainable.
How are you involved with Diagnostic Medical Sonography outside of CBD College?
I started out working in urgent care and a mobile site where many of the patients have machines hooked up to them and they can’t even talk, and I’ve worked at a vascular lab for a short period of time. I currently work part time at an imaging center. It’s a job that requires skill, so it keeps me sharp and impacts my teaching in a positive way.
Our DMS Program Director, Alex Gelfand explained that you recently attended the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) workshop. Can you give me more detail as to what that means for you and our students?
As a member of ARDMS, you are expected to volunteer and give back to the community. I went to the workshop last month. That was actually my second time attending, which I consider a tremendous honor because they only ask certain members of the ARDMS community in order to hear different perspectives and opinions.
So we set up a new outline for what a sonographer is expected to know to perform an ultrasound: anatomy, pathology, normal and abnormal, new technology, etc. We send that outline out to other sonographers to survey and see if it is too in-depth, then the committee will review and come out with a new outline for Abdomen testing.
It takes a long time to decide what discard and what to keep, but this outline prepares our students for their Board Exam. I also get to review possible exam questions written by members of ARDMS. That’s how I model my exams, so it’s definitely an advantage for our students.