In the spotlight is a new series highlighting local unsung heroes in the community who might otherwise go unseen in the course of every day life.
A sonographer in training at Katherine Hospital has taken a leap of faith and extended his three month placement.
In a move to advance his career, Trung Nguyen is soaking up the hands-on experience readily available from his mentors.
He has temporarily traded in life in the big smoke with his family in Sydney for this small outback town, and it is working out.
After completing a four-year degree at the University of Sydney in radiology, Mr Nguyen set out to learn the ropes as a stenographer - the pair go hand in hand and mainly differ in the equipment used.
“Sonography is the fancy word for doing ultrasounds,” he said.
The 23 year-old from Sydney, who was born in Vietnam and moved over at the age of six with his parents, said the emphasis placed on patient care was a significant factor in his choice to stay.
“Being a smaller hospital in a rural location the doctors want to spend more time with the patient and I am encouraged to take my time.
“When you are taking an x-ray, often patients are going through quite a traumatic experience, they might be in pain or a bit stressed out, so a lot of our job is providing comfort while we are taking those x-rays.
“It isn’t easy if someone is in complete pain from a broken arm,” he said.
Sometimes when you go to a placement you’re expected to sit back and watch. But here I am getting hands-on experienceTrung Nguyen
Working as a sonographer is a little like being a detective, but instead of solving crimes the job is about investigating parts of the body to provide a diagnosis.
“It is a difficult job, especially as a beginner,” Mr Nguyen said, “I worry about missing things because If I don’t pick up on something when I do an ultrasound the doctor won’t know about it either. There is a lot of responsibility in your hands.
“It takes a lot of looking and communication with the patient about where the pain might be so we can find a solution for them.”
Mr Nguyen said he was grateful for the training opportunities he has been provided.
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“It is pretty hard to get training in Sonography. I’m very grateful they’ve sent me [to Katherine],” Mr Nguyen said.
“It is very hands on training, the sonographer in charge has to watch you scan so they are using up a lot of their time.
“It can also costs the practice a lot of money.
“My supervisors have been very helpful and they have even employed me as a radiographer so I can keep up my skills doing x-rays at the same time.”
Even though he has been at the job since July, he still gets excited about what the day might hold.
“There might be an abdomen to scan or if there is a serious accident we go to emergency to take those x-rays. Those are a little bit more hectic.
“I really like being challenged and helping the other doctor in diagnosing a disease.
“The interesting thing about Katherine is there is so much variety in people who walk through the door.
“We have people flying from communities like Ngukurr and Borroloola. They don’t have the facilities there, so if someone is pregnant or has broken something they need to access Katherine hospital.
“Working in a rural setting is different from what I am used to, but it has been a good experience,” he said.
Mr Nguyen’s placement has been extended until December, and if all goes well, he hopes to stay on for even longer.
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