Dissertation Abstract

Defining the Path From a Technical Occupation to a Profession: The Role of the Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Publication Number:  AAT3071540
Author:  Mitchell, Carol Kaye Chenoweth
School:  University of Missouri - Kansas City
Date:  2002
Pages:  234
Subject:  Curricula, Teaching

This study is an ethnography of the occupation of diagnostic medical sonography. An ethnography is a form of qualitative research that examines an intact cultural group in a natural setting (cited in Creswell, 1994; Wallen & Fraenken, 1991). This study utilizes qualitative methodologies and an emic perspective to examine the occupational role of the diagnostic medical sonographer. The purpose of this study is to examine how understanding the role of the sonographer can affect curriculum development. One can use the information gained from the ethnographic description of the sonographer's work to develop curricula for this occupation and shape the curricula to enhance professional development, possibly by rewriting educational standards for entering and advancing in the field. It is hoped that the described phenomena may be applied to other occupations and professions to investigate how understanding occupational roles can affect curriculum development and how that in turn enhances professional development of the field.

Utilizing ethnographic description of the sonographer's work, I examined sonographers' perspectives on their work and their past experiences in learning sonography. I examined the need for changes in education by studying the diagnostic medical sonographers' behavior in their work setting. From this in-depth examination, I derived patterns influencing practice. These data will provide information for educators regarding curriculum planning. The theoretical framework for this study was based on the work of Patricia Yarbrough (1980) and her use of George Herbert Mead's (1934) theory of symbolic interaction.

Qualitative research methods enabled me to acquire intimate familiarity with the roles and expectations of the diagnostic medical sonographers at the pseudonymous Midwestern Hospital (based on an amalgam of ultrasound labs at which sonographers practice). I assumed the role of participant observer, using direct observation, field notes, interviews, transcriptions of all interviews, and archival records to collect data. Feldman's use of semiotic chains was used in interpreting data.

Within the ethnographic context, this study presents a history of the development of sonography, based on a comprehensive literature search and interviews with the field's earliest practitioners.

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