Thrive by IU Health

September 05, 2023

‘Registered cardiac sonographer’ has a nice ring to it

‘Registered cardiac sonographer’ has a nice ring to it

Last fall, two IU Health Arnett team members, MEgan Barrett and Becky Cruz, began a journey to become registered cardiac sonographers (RCS). Both are now board eligible and will soon be able to add the RCS credential after their names.

Both say the journey was worth it and that they are excited to be near the finish line.

“I knew it would be fast paced,” says Becky Cruz, certified medical assistant. “There was a lot to learn and sometimes it was hard, but it has been worth it.”

Barrett is a respiratory therapist. She joined the program to expand her skillset and fill a need she witnessed when working at the critical access hospitals.

The two have spent the past year working with instructor and echocardiographer Maira Ramirez, completing a program in one year that traditionally takes 18 months to complete.

“I love these ladies,” says Ramirez. “We have become so close. I like that they will now be my co-workers.”

Becky Cruz and Megan Barrett with instructor Maira Ramirez
Becky Cruz and Megan Barrett with instructor Maira Ramirez

Registered cardiac sonographers take an ultrasound of the heart. This type of imaging allows the provider to see the beating of the heart and the pumping of blood. The images can be used to help diagnosis diseases of the heart.

It takes seven registered cardiac sonographers to staff the hospitals of West Central Region, a void that has been filled with travelers since 2019.

The Pathways to Success program, which started in the fall of 2022 with generous support from the IU Health Foundation, trains interested team members on becoming registered cardiac sonographers and fill the open positions. There was no tuition or program cost for Cruz and Barrett, who also received their previous full-time salary while completing the full-time training.

After graduation, they will be promoted to cardiac sonographer positions once they are identified as eligible to sit for their boards.

“Through the training process, I quickly learned that scanning itself is a lot more challenging than one would think,” says Cruz. “There are cases that are easy to scan, but then you have ones where whatever you do, you can’t get the image just right. It is satisfying when you are challenged with a difficult scan, and you get a great study.”

Becky Cruz performing an ultrasound of the heart.
Becky Cruz performing an ultrasound of the heart.

After 40 hours a week of classroom work and clinicals over the past year, the pair is at the finish line.

Barrett is looking forward to working more of a Monday through Friday schedule, along with watching her eight-year-old son’s baseball games instead of studying while taking him to practices and games. Cruz will be happy to not have to carry a heavy backpack filled with textbooks.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity,” says Barrett. “The support we have received from fellow team members, leadership and the investment from the IU Health Foundation has been tremendous in helping us advance into our new roles.”