Sentara School of Health Professions
- 6: June 2004
- Posted on: 6/19/08
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*Betty Ashdown has since left her position at the Sentara School.
Why and how did you become an educator?
Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed teaching. When I started in the field of radiologic technology, I became interested in the instruction of fellow students. I continued to take advanced level courses and ended up in the North Carolina Baptist Hospital’s program for special diagnostic radiologic procedures. After three years, I moved to Virginia. I was fortunate enough to work in angiography at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and became an instructor in the Special Vascular Imaging program. Several years later, the Director of the Radiologic Technology Program at Tidewater Community College and I started courses in angiography, computerized tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging as continuing education courses at the community college. A couple of years later, I moved from radiology to cardiology, and after one year accepted the position of Clinical Instructor for the School of Cardiovascular Technology.
How long has your program been in operation?
The Sentara School of Cardiovascular Technology has been in operation for over 20 years. The first class graduated in March 1984. The program includes three different tracks: Invasive Cardiology, Echocardiography, and Peripheral Vascular Ultrasound. I became the clinical instructor for the invasive track in August 1997.
Can you describe your program syllabus, both clinical and classroom?
The 18-month school has an intense didactic and clinical curriculum, and is a competency-based educational program. In the first six months, the student’s attention is devoted to the basics of cardiology and patient care. By the second semester, students focus their attention on the specialty and are ready to assist in the clinical setting with diagnostic procedures. In the second and third semester, the didactic work is less and the student concentrates on developing clinical skills. The student has to complete procedural competencies in order to advance to senior level. By the time the student graduates, he/she must show competency in interventional procedures by performing the skills during actual procedures.
How many students do you accept each year?
We are one of the programs in the Sentara School of Health Professions, which markets all six of its programs. Last year we received 67 applications, which reflects over a 100% increase from previous years, and accepted 17 (which reflects a 75% increase over previous years). Of those accepted, 8 are dedicated to the invasive tract.
Applicants must choose which modality they want prior to admission, to ensure we do not overload the clinical sites. I attribute the increase in applications to not only the increased marketing of the various programs, but also to the increased awareness of heart disease across the nation.
What backgrounds do students generally have?
Our students come to us with a wide range of backgrounds. Some of them have a degree in exercise science or biology, and have heard of the profession from their professor or during their clinical rotations in cardiac rehab. Others have been working for years in other careers, but have always been interested in the medical profession and decided to change careers. Some of our applicants are introduced to the field of cardiology because one of their family members has cardiovascular disease.
What is your program’s annual tuition?
The program is an 18-month program and the total cost of the invasive track is $8622.00 (tuition and fees). This price does not include the cost of uniforms and books.
What textbooks, CDs, and websites are used in your classes?
There are several books the students are required to purchase during the program. Some are: ECG Workout Exercises in Arrhythmia Interpretation, 4th ed. (Jane Huff); Pathophysiology of Heart Disease, 3rd Ed. (Leonard Lilly); The Cardiac Catheterization Handbook, 4th Ed. (Morton Kern); Invasive Cardiology: A Manual for Cath Lab Personnel (Sandy Watson); A Guide To Interpretation of Hemodynamic Data in The Coronary Care Unit (Scott Sharkey).
The school has a wide variety of videos and CDs, all are available to the students in the Learning Resource Center (LRC). The 18 computers in the LRC also provide Internet access and computer applications. The LRC allows the student to use these resources at their leisure and can assist them with some of their projects. Technical support is on site and accessible.
The School has recently moved into a new facility, with larger didactic classrooms as well as skills labs. The program has a skills lab that simulates a cardiac catheterization procedure room. The room consists of an old Marquette monitoring system, a table for tray set up, a Medrad injector, a HP monitor, and a mannequin on a stretcher for practicing patient prep and simulation of procedures. The invasive students also practice catheter exchange with Angiogram Sam, a model of the aortic tree and the coronary arteries around the heart. The skills lab provides the student with an opportunity to practice their skills before going into the clinical setting.
What types of clinical experiences do you offer students?