Jody L. Hancock, associate professor and director of diagnostic medical sonography programs at Chattanooga State Community College, and 2012 cardiovascular sonography graduate Tonya Epperson, placed first in the sonographer presentation competition at the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) Annual Conference in Seattle. Ms. Hancock and Ms. Epperson’s research abstract will be published in the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Ms. Hancock, who has been with Chattanooga State since 1993, holds an M.A. from the University of Phoenix and is a registered diagnostic medical sonographer (R.D.M.S.), registered vascular technologist (R.V.T.), and registered technologist R.T.(R).
Ms. Epperson, R.T.(R), a general radiographer from Nancy, Ky., graduated in August from Chattanooga State’s regionally accredited cardiovascular sonography program. Her interest in research on mesenteric arterial assessment began as an inquiry during her first semester after attending one of Ms. Hancock’s course sessions in the sonography program. Ms. Hancock encouraged Ms. Epperson to hold onto her question so they might explore it together as a formal research question.
Vicky Leather, former dean of Library Services at Chattanooga State, and other members of Chattanooga State’s library staff, worked with Ms. Epperson as she began her literature review. Ms. Epperson’s enthusiasm in forming a hypothesis and testing it even inspired the sonographers at her clinical site to help her gather data. Ms. Hancock supervised the development of Ms. Epperson’s methodology, as well as the review, results and revision processes of her research work.
According to Ms. Hancock, “Tonya Epperson’s work is a prime example for sonographers to follow, and her work will serve well into the future as a straightforward research model for other sonography students at Chattanooga State to consider. When a sonographer recognizes what appears to be a pattern or has a question about protocol development, he or she can use professional tools, such as literature review and research methodology, to assist in solving his or her own dilemma.”
As a prior first place winner of SDMS’s scientific presentation competition, Ms. Hancock recognized that this was a good match for sharing the results of Ms. Epperson’s preliminary research. Ms. Hancock submitted a scientific summary of the work entitled, “Duplex Assessment of Mesenteric Arteries within a Targeted Negative Gallbladder Sonogram: A Pilot Protocol Study.” The scientific abstract was selected as one of the top three finalists in the nation. As a certified sonographer, Ms. Hancock was recognized as the primary author of the research abstract and the presenter at the competition, with Ms. Epperson as the co-author.
“Sonographers can become their own experts in their field – and should strive to do so. They do not have to wait on someone else to develop methodology, gather data and publish results that might not even have generalizability according to their particular clinical situations. The results of this piloted work, that came about from a student simply giving new thought to what she was learning, demonstrate compelling evidence that scan protocol in adult females with negative gallbladder studies should, at the very least, be reconsidered,” said Ms. Hancock.
Ms. Hancock and Ms. Epperson intend to further edit the results and conclusions of their pilot study and submit the work for publication consideration in a peer-reviewed professional journal. If accepted for publication, Ms. Epperson will assume primary authorship of the published work, with Ms. Hancock as the co-author.