Choosing between two degrees: Echocardiography or Paramedicine (1 Viewer)

anon2017

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Hi guys,

I am trying to decide between these two degrees.
B Echocardiography & Cardiac Physiology/Grad Dip Echocardiography - CQU
B Paramedicine - ACU

I would really enjoy both of the degrees and I believe both of the careers. I am already a uni student so would be transferring, and have loved my medical science related studies so far, but do not know if I want to pursue actual medical school. However, I definitely want a career in healthcare.

Paramedicine would allow me to perform some procedures in critical situations which really appeals to me. It is the closer to medicine out of the two degrees (though, yes, obviously still VERY far from actual medicine practiced by MDs, I know, don't worry). I like the idea of fast critical thinking, the patient interaction, even in the non-emergent cases (which will be the majority), and I think I would enjoy the content of this degree the most. I am worried about not being able to gain employment after graduation though - a huge amount of grads do not gain employment with the ambulance services in Aus as there is such an oversupply of grads these days. I know my personality, work ethic, and how I work in a variety of environments and situations and I think I would likely do well in assessments, but also -- a LOT of grads would also do well, and they still miss out. This is very worrying for me.

Echocardiography is also very appealing though. I love anatomy and physiology, I love the cardiovascular system particularly, medical imaging fascinates me, and sonography is the modality of imaging that requires the practitioner to use more clinical judgement because while not diagnosing, they need to pick up on abnormalities and possible pathologies to report to the radiologist. I would love to do this. There is clear room for career progression, with training in general medical sonography an option too. And the pay for graduates is quite good, with a lot of room to grow. In contrast to paramedics, there is a shortage of sonographers (including cardiac), and I would be able to find employment Australia wide. The two negatives for me are 1. The university: I have heard a lot of negative things about CQU and worry this will impact my future in the field, even though the degree is accredited, and even though it would not reflect who I am as a professional, and 2. The placements: these last months at a time, and could possibly involve relocation, which would be incredibly expensive. I have contacted the uni to see if it is possible to source alternative placements locally, and am awaiting a response. It is the only undergraduate pathway into the profession though, and if I choose to do this as a postgrad, I will need to first complete a degree in allied health anyway, and then seek a training position which is extremely difficult to get.

So I am just looking for any opinions or advice here. Any thoughts? Things I have not considered? What would you choose?
 

Eagle Mum

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I try to refrain from giving career advice on forums since we know little to nothing about each other, so these are just general points to consider:

CQU website seem to be quite explicit in their advice that students should be personally & financially prepared to move interstate for clinical placements. It would be interesting if border restrictions due to threat of COVID might prompt them to change this policy in which case it might remove one of your barriers.

The reputation of the institution conferring a degree is usually not a big factor in employability - selection panels are looking for knowledge, skills, practical experience and someone who can work independently as well as in a team. That said, I did read some online reviews by past & present CQU students that are making me a bit wary so it might be a good idea to seek out more first hand accounts.

Have you considered diagnostic radiography which is a broader field of study offered by several universities or are you particularly keen on cardiac ultrasound studies? I would guess that a degree in echocardiography should enable you to move sideways into ultrasound imaging of other body systems but as it’s the only degree of its kind and highly specialised, it might be worthwhile checking with AHPA (https://ahpa.com.au/allied-health-professions/sonography/) and ASAR what credentials the CQU degree would lead to (the CQU course is listed amongst their accredited degrees but if you haven’t already done so, it might be worthwhile checking the scope it entitles you to practice - cardiac or general ultrasound). They are all four year degrees but most states will have one or more unis which offer diagnostic imaging courses, so you may be able to avoid relocating interstate. Experience with other diagnostic modalities (CT, MRI, nuclear medicine) may also potentially give you more employment options.

All that aside, your articulation of your personal career goals sound like you have thought things through quite thoroughly, so I hope you are successful in whichever career path you choose to embark on.
 
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anon2017

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I did read some online reviews by past & present CQU students that are making me a bit wary
Yeah, when I did some research I found some negative ones too. I can't find too much specifically about echo though, and what I did find is from a while ago now (or at least based on experiences a few years ago), so things may have changed. I will keep looking around and trying to find more info online and potentially reach out to students through some online spaces.

CQU website seem to be quite explicit in their advice that students should be personally & financially prepared to move interstate for clinical placements
I saw this, and then tried to find more detailed info about placements but was unsuccessful. I am hoping that when I hear back from the uni I will receive some useful information, whether or not it is what I would like to hear.

Have you considered diagnostic radiography
Yes I have. I think that while there are also some aspects of other imaging professions I would enjoy too, they lack a number of qualities that make sonography particularly appealing. I would have to do a 4 year radiography degree and then postgrad echo and/or sonography anyway, but with the added struggle of obtaining a training position.

it might be worthwhile checking with AHPA (https://ahpa.com.au/allied-health-professions/sonography/) and ASAR what credentials the CQU degree would lead to
From looking at the CQU course handbook and browsing the ASAR site, it seems that the echo degree would lead to registration as a Medical Sonographer (Cardiac), and also allow for registration with accreditation bodies in Europe, the UK, and the USA. The sonography degree leads to registration as a Medical Sonographer/General Sonographer.

most states will have one or more unis which offer diagnostic imaging courses
There are a number of radiography degrees nationwide, but the only echocardiography/sonography undergrad pathways are through CQU, which offers these degrees at a few campuses.

I hope you are successful in whichever career path you choose to embark on.
Thank you very much :) And thanks for the reply!
 

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