When most of us think of ultrasounds, we think of obstetrics and pictures of babies getting ready to be born. Ultrasounds are valuable diagnostic tools for obstetricians, but they also have many other valuable medical uses diagnosing and evaluating gall stones, assessing breast abnormalities, and even examining the brain and spinal cord.
Michelle, however, does work in an OBGYN’s office. Her day typically goes like this:
8:00 a.m. Michelle arrives at work and begins preparing for her first round of patients. This involves getting her machine and materials set and reviewing any necessary paperwork before the office opens.
8:35 a.m. First patient of the day arrives in Michelle’s area. Mr. and Mrs. J. are here to get a better idea of how far along Mrs. J. is in her pregnancy. Since baby-to-be is a surprise, Michelle uses baby’s measurements to determine an approximate gestational age. Knowing this age lets Mrs. J.’s doctor estimate a delivery date and ensure that baby’s development stays on track. Michelle lets Mr. and Mrs. J watch baby’s heartbeat and kids them about which of them has twins running in the family. No heart attacks, folks; there’s only one baby!
9:00 a.m. Mr. and Mrs. J head on their way, and Michelle cleans up from their appointment before making notes in Mrs. J.’s file. Baby J.’s pictures and measurements are recorded for Mrs. J.’s doctor to review later.
9:30 a.m. Michelle’s next appointment arrives. This couple is much further along in their pregnancy and is here to see if they can determine whether their baby will be a boy or a girl. Michelle applies the conducting gel (it looks like watery Vaseline, and it helps the ultrasound waves better transmit through the abdominal wall) to mom’s belly and moves the hand-held probe over the surface. Before looking for sex, Michelle takes measurements and scans important areas for any signs of abnormalities. Baby looks healthy and happy but is not in a photogenic mood! Michelle and mom do a little bit of maneuvering to see if they can encourage baby to get in the right position. After a few minutes of negotiating, baby decides to bare all — it’s a boy! Michelle prints pictures for the couple and also burns them to a CD, as they’d requested.
10:15 a.m. Michelle again makes her notes in the couple’s files and then cleans up her station to prepare for her next appointment.
10:45 a.m. Michelle’s next appointment is running late, so she uses this time to make more detailed notes, tidy up her work area and chat with some of her office mates. Some pictures of the latest delivery arrive, and Michelle helps hang them on the office bulletin board for staffers and patients to enjoy and admire.
11:00 a.m. Michelle’s previous appointment had to reschedule, so after finishing up her tasks, her next appointment gets to come back a little early. This first-time mom has been coming in weekly so her doctor can keep an eye on her amniotic fluid levels. They’ve dropped once again, and although she’s probably still not in the danger zone, her doctor will need this information to make recommendations to protect baby’s health. Michelle makes notes in her file and offers soothing comments to mom, who is understandably nervous.
12:00 p.m. Lunch.
1:00 p.m. Michelle’s afternoon is typically a repeat of her morning’s activities. Most days are filled with happy news and excited parents, but occasionally some serious problems are found through the course of a routine examine. Even though Michelle isn’t the one who has deliver bad news, these unfortunate discoveries are definitely the hardest part of her job. Fortunately, good days far outnumber the bad, and Michelle enjoys being a part of such an exciting time for so many parents.