Diagnostic Medical Sonography Advisory Meeting Minutes

Oct. 22, 2021, 1 p.m.

Meeting Place



Leigh Giles-Brown, LLCC DMS Program Director


Members in Attendance

Erin Holthaus (for Sarah Minott), DMH; Joanne VanLeer, HSHS St. John’s/St. Francis; Kurt Brauer, MMC; Marjorie King, MMC; Anna Lawyer (Jr. Student Rep.), LLCC; Leigh Giles-Brown, LLCC; Micaela Childress, LLCC; Cynthia Maskey, LLCC; Ann Neilson, LLCC; Karen Sanders, LLCC; Becky Clinton, SIU MFM; Ryan Morris, UnityPoint Health

Members Absent

Ronald Hidalgo (Medical Director), Springfield Clinic; David Overlot, DMH; Sarah Minott, DMH; Trinity Flowers, HAH; Tiffany Whitaker, MMC; Iyerusalem Dollar (Sr. Student Rep), LLCC; Vern Lindquist, LLCC; Sandy Hendricks (Public Member), Rochester High School; Jacquelyn Patterson, SIU MFM; Rochelle Holck, Springfield Clinic




  1. Welcome and introductions
    • New members
    • Invites extended
    • Roll call
  2. Current program features
    • Students
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum and textbooks
    • Clinical
    • Registry exams
    • Equipment
  3. Old business
    • Proposed AAS degree
    • Proposed vascular certificate
    • Clinical sites and COVID vaccinations
    • Expanded lab space
    • New CAAHEP Standards and Guidelines (effective Sept. 2021)
  4. New business
    • New full-time faculty/clinical coordinator
    • Grant-funded equipment
  5. Program needs
    • Enrollment
    • Ultrasound machines
    • Instructional technologies
    • Guest lectures
  6. Open forum
    • Insights, trends and stakeholder needs
    • Concerns and recommendations


1. Welcome and Introductions

  • Leigh introduced the new DMS PAC members:
    • Anna Lawyer, DMS student representative
    • Ann Neilson, DMS clinical coordinator
    • Micaela Childress, LLCC student success coach
  • Leigh mentioned that a copy of the minutes will be sent to Laurel Bretz at LLCC to assist her with her college Higher Education degree requirements.
  • Other PAC members introduced themselves.
  • Marjorie King announced that all hospitals in the Memorial Health System will now have names that include the city of their location (e.g. Memorial Medical Center is now Springfield Memorial Hospital).

2. Current Program Features

  • Leigh Giles-Brown presented the following current program features:
    • There are 3 students in the first-year cohort and 3 students in the second-year cohort of the DMS Certificate of Achievement Program.
    • DMS program faculty consists of one administrator (Leigh Giles-Brown, program director), one full-time faculty/clinical coordinator, (Ann Neilson), and one adjunct faculty (Raven Horsthemke).
    • The current 49-credit DMS Certificate of Achievement curriculum in place for the fall 2021 cohort was shared on screen. Leigh highlighted the increase from a 47-credit program to a 49-credit program due to a new DMS 110 Introduction to Normal Sonographic Imaging course. This course runs in the first half of the first semester and provides students with a better balance of introductory information on normal sonography before they take pathology courses.
    • The current textbook list was displayed on screen and there are several new editions being fully incorporated into the program courses.
  • Ann Neilson provided a clinical update that includes 8 active clinical sites and additional sites that are not being used yet due to the small number of enrolled DMS students. Ann mentioned the valuable clinical experience the second-year students are getting and that the sites are all very engaged. She encouraged sites to continue to provide feedback as it is used to more fully prepare students for the workplace.
  • Leigh Giles-Brown shared good news that all DMS second-year students successfully passed the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation registry examination in June 2021. This is one of two exams sonographers must pass to become fully certified with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The students will be eligible to sit for both abdomen and obstetric/gynecology specialty board exams after they graduate in May 2022.
  • Images of new ultrasound equipment (obtained through grants and LLCC funding) were displayed and included a neonatal head scanning phantom, a soft tissue mass biopsy phantom, CAE Vimedix obstetric simulator (for second trimester obstetric normal and pathology scans), SonoSim online simulated training modules/assessments/ scanning, and Butterfly CMUT transducers (obtained through a grant from the Orthopedic Center of Illinois (OCI)).
    • Post-meeting, Karen Sanders confirmed the OCI funds are available to purchase the iPads needed to go with the Butterfly transducer equipment.

3. Old Business

  • Leigh Giles-Brown presented the following information:
    • The proposed AAS degree curriculum was displayed and sent previously via email. The program is designed to be 66 credits and the course progression was discussed including the addition of a new DMS 111 Scanning Lab III course and the combination of case study and registry review information into the DMS 204 Advanced Sonography Seminar course. The admission requirements will include a college-level math course (algebra or higher level) and will no longer require a prior degree. Leigh Giles-Brown mentioned that the prior degree requirement resulted in limited student enrollment in the current certificate program.
    • The proposed Vascular Sonography Certificate of Completion program was displayed and sent previously via email. The program is designed to be 14 credits and to take one year to complete. The admission requirements of students needing to be registered sonographers was explained. The required employer participation letter was discussed as follows:
      • Marjorie King asked how many vascular hours students would need as part of the field work requirement. Leigh Giles-Brown explained they would need approximately 10 hours per week.
      • Marjorie King asked if it will be possible for students to gain experience with travel technologists due to staff shortages. Leigh Giles-Brown answered that they will be able to count time supervised by travel techs as long as those techs are registered vascular sonographers.
      • Marjorie King asked if the DMS program will provide a template for the required employer participation letter. Leigh Giles-Brown answered that LLCC DMS will develop a template.
      • Joanne VanLeer asked why the vascular certificate program took a full year. She mentioned that Kaskaskia’s vascular program only requires one additional semester. Leigh Giles-Brown explained that one year is in keeping with most employer requirements for new sonographers to gain their vascular registry with a year. Also, that the LLCC DMS vascular certificate is designed to allow students to work at the same time they are learning what they need to achieve their vascular board exams and it is not clear that is the goal of the Kaskaskia program.
      • Joanne VanLeer mentioned that HSHS St. John’s has two vascular areas – the general ultrasound department and a vascular lab – and they will be able to accommodate vascular certificate students.
      • Ryan Morris mentioned that Unity Point will be able to accommodate vascular certificate students at their Pekin and Proctor sites. Also, that Memorial has vascular exams and they have outpatient vascular labs as well.
    • Leigh Giles-Brown reported that SIU Maternal-Fetal Medicine is the only site to date who is requiring students to be COVID vaccinated in order to attend clinical at their sites.
      • Ryan Morris reported that UnityPoint also is requiring students to be COVID vaccinated.
      • Marjorie King reported that students are strongly encouraged to be COVID vaccinated for Memorial Health System, but that it is not a requirement. Regular testing for those who are not vaccinated will be required if it is ever state mandated.
      • Joanne VanLeer reported that HSHS is not requiring COVID vaccines at this time but they do require weekly testing for unvaccinated employees.
      • Leigh Giles-Brown mentioned that LLCC requires all staff and students to complete a daily COVID symptom tracker, strongly recommends vaccination, and requires weekly testing for anyone who is not vaccinated.
    • Leigh Giles-Brown shared images of the new expanded DMS lab space.
    • Leigh Giles-Brown noted that the DMS program is currently operating under the newest Commission for Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) DMS standards and guidelines that went into effect September 2021.

4. New Business

  • Leigh Giles-Brown presented the following New Business:
    • Welcome again to Ann Neilson, LLCC DMS clinical coordinator.
    • The DMS program will be seeking additional grants for active learning equipment including instructional technologies such as computers and monitors. Drop down monitors in each scan bay will help students who are being scanned as models remain engaged as they will be able to learn from seeing the imaging taking place on the ultrasound equipment.

5. Program Needs

  • Leigh Giles-Brown presented the following program needs:
    • Student enrollment needs to increase, and it is anticipated the switch to the DMS AAS degree program will enable more students to qualify for admission.
    • Clinical partners were thanked for spreading the word about the DMS program and for their support in attracting potential students.
    • Once the iPads are purchased, the Butterfly transducers will be used for scanning instruction.
    • If any clinical site has used ultrasound equipment they can donate, please let Leigh Giles-Brown know.
    • Marjorie King asked if the DMS program will accept a SonoSite ultrasound machine that is primarily used for emergency scanning. Leigh answered that the program will accept a donation of a SonoSite machine and that students learn about Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) in addition to full diagnostic exams.
    • Leigh Giles-Brown will be using some the program supply budget to purchase an instructional monitor and computer for the new lab space.
  • Ann Neilson put forth a request for guest lectures on a variety of topics including career readiness. She mentioned the second-year students will be creating cover letters and resumes with the LLCC Writing Center this spring and would benefit from human resources information or interview skill training that clinical sites can provide.
    • Becky Clinton offered to provide a guest lecture on fetal echo.
    • Kurt Brauer mentioned that he and Joanne VanLeer usually offer an interview skills workshop to the RAD program in early spring and they would be willing to have DMS students attend their session as well. Leigh Giles-Brown said she would follow-up with LLCC RAD Program Director Janelle Murphy to see if a joint RAD/DMS workshop could be scheduled.

6. Open Forum

  • Micaela Childress asked how many students the DMS AAS degree program might be able to take. Leigh Giles-Brown answered that the college goal is to have 16 enrolled students.
  • Leigh Giles-Brown asked how clinical sites were doing with sonographer staffing and the following was reported:
    • Decatur Memorial Hospital has 3 openings.
    • UnityPoint just hired 4 but still has openings.
    • SIU Maternal-Fetal just hired one and still has one opening.
    • St. John’s is fully staffed right now.
    • Springfield Memorial Hospital has one general position available and multiple vascular positions.
  • Leigh Giles-Brown mentioned she will send email updates as needed and will email everyone the expected spring PAC meeting date.