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Saying Thanks to USA's RVTs

October 30th, 2018

October is Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month – and we’re recognizing the role diagnostic medical sonographers play in the medical community and raising awareness about the many uses for medical ultrasound in healthcare. University Surgical’s Vascular Diagnostic Services includes seven vascular surgeons, supported by vascular techs – all of whom are registered vascular technologists (RVTs) through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).  

RVTs perform non-invasive vascular exams using ultrasound technology – that assist vascular surgeons in the diagnosis of vascular disorders like venous disease, vascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, cerebrovascular disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm. 

At University Surgical, RVTs are important members of our vascular team. That’s why we’re highlighting these awesome professionals today and saying thanks for the great work they do in caring for our patients! 

Bettina McAlister, RVT, Vascular Technologist 

Education
I did not attend ultrasound school but worked through on-the-job training then sat for my RVT exam. This is no longer allowed. 

Years of Experience: 24 

What led you to your career?
God! I was the transcriptionist in the vascular lab at EHS under the leadership of Marsha Bock (COO at University Surgical). I asked to train for the job, and she agreed.  

What do you enjoy about your job?
There’s no monotony. I earn something new all the time. Our bodies are amazing and different from one another. 

Describe a satisfying moment in your career at USA when you thought “this is why I do what I do!” 
I've had more thoughts of "what am I doing here?" when challenged with a difficult study!  I've just appreciated being trained by patient leaders and co-workers who always encouraged and helped me understand and learn. 

What are your hobbies or favorite things to do outside of work?
Grandbabies, grandbabies, grandbabies....is there anything else? Oh yes, church and thrifting! 


Deanna New, RVT, Vascular Technologist


Education
I earned my degree from Georgia Northwestern Technical College. 

Years of Experience: 11 

What led you to your career?
I wanted to do patient care. 

What do you enjoy about your job? 
Helping patients. 

Describe a satisfying moment in your career at USA when you thought “this is why I do what I do!” 
I feel satisfied when a patient thanks me for helping them. 

What are your hobbies or favorite things to do outside of work?

Be with my family and girl time (lunch dates)!  


Heather Chappell, RVT, Vascular Technologist

Education
Georgia Northwestern Technical College 

Years of Experience: 4

What led you to your career?

I served overseas doing mission work and met a lady that did ultrasound in other countries and knew then this is what I want to do. 

What do you enjoy about your job? 
I enjoy vascular because I believe it puts a story together for the surgeon. 

Describe a satisfying moment in your career at USA when you thought “this is why I do what I do!”

When my grandmother was a patient here, and she had multiple gastrointestinal problems, and no one could figure out what was going on. I told her it sounded like mesenteric disease. She had an ultrasound and we discovered she had Celiac Disease. Post stent placement all of her symptoms have subsided, and she now has an appetite. The fact that I get to help people’s quality of life on a daily basis is why I do what I do. 

What are your hobbies or favorite things to do outside of work?
I love kickboxing and watching movies. 


Lexie Girod, RVT, Vascular Technologist, Educational Coordinator 

Education
Georgia Northwestern Technical College 

Years of Experience: 9

What led you to your career?
My dad. He is registered in all modalities of ultrasound.  

What do you enjoy about your job? 
Helping and building a relationship with patients.  

Describe a satisfying moment in your career at USA when you thought “this is why I do what I do!”

Any time a patient thanks me for my service or gives hugs because they are so appreciative of my (our) skills. 

What are your hobbies or favorite things to do outside of work?
Hanging out with my husband and dog!  


Brandie Lane, RVT, Vascular Technologist 

Education
Georgia Northwestern Technical College  

Years of Experience: 15 years 

What led you to your career?
My mother worked in admissions at GNTC when the vascular ultrasound program was beginning. I was studying early childhood education and was unsure of that career path. I decided to speak with the instructor of the program and went for it! 

What do you enjoy about your job? 
Patient interaction/care. I absolutely love meeting and hearing people’s life stories. 

Describe a satisfying moment in your career at USA when you thought “this is why I do what I do!” 
When I am able to diagnostically determine that a patient – who has exhausted all other resources to determine the source of pain – has a blockage/stenosis that can be fixed and change their quality of life completely. 

What are your hobbies or favorite things to do outside of work?
Being mom + wife, church, healthy living, and reading! 


Jackie Davis, RVT, Vascular Technologist 

Education
Georgia Northwestern Technical College 

Years of Experience: 2

What led you to your career?
My interest in ultrasound when I was in high school. 

What do you enjoy about your job? 
Being able to help others.  

Describe a satisfying moment in your career at USA when you thought “this is why I do what I do!” 
A patient had been diagnosed with cancer and was in office for a DVT scan. His wife was in the room with us, and I said something funny. The patient laughed, and his wife said, "I haven't seen you laugh like that in months." 


What are your hobbies or favorite things to do outside of work?
Shop, eat and hang out with my family and friends. 


Amanda Wright, RVT, Vascular Technologist 

Education
Georgia Northwestern Technical College 

Years of Experience: 9

What led you to your career?
My older sister was a radiology tech and worked in the special procedures with vascular surgeons at a hospital in Rome, GA. Through her experience in healthcare, I learned about careers in the medical field. 

What do you enjoy about your job? 

What I find most rewarding in my role as a sonographer is following patients pre- and post-op. When my ultrasound findings lead the physician to the correct treatment course for the patient, I find it very gratifying and worthwhile. 

Describe a satisfying moment in your career at USA when you thought “this is why I do what I do!” 
When Dr. Greer and Dr. Sprouse told me they wanted to start scanning for pelvic vein insufficiency, I was initially intimidated by the idea of learning and implementing a new exam that was "unknown" to us in our lab. We worked very hard in the lab to learn and understand how to perform these exams and recognize normal and abnormal findings. When we began to have positive pelvic findings and the patients had successful procedures based off our ultrasound reporting, I felt very proud of our work and to be a part of a practice like USA. 

What are your hobbies or favorite things to do outside of work?
When I'm not working, I enjoy the simple things the most like spending time with my husband, Jason, and daughter, Libby Claire.  

Tricia Royals, BS, RDMS, RVT, Vascular Technologist 

Education
University of Florida, Santa Fe College 

Years of Experience: 10

What led you to your career?
I love the problem-solving aspect of being a sonographer. 

What do you enjoy about your job? 
I love that I get to perform a variety of studies on a varied patient population. It keeps things interesting. 

Describe a satisfying moment in your career at USA when you thought “this is why I do what I do!” 
When I leave a patient room knowing that I found the reason for their problem. 

What are your hobbies or favorite things to do outside of work?

I am a wife and mom of two boys, so I am a busy lady! I’m a potter and a beekeeper. I also love to craft and horseback ride. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: vascular

Women in Surgery

October 15th, 2018

There are approximately 160,000 surgeons in the United States – and only 19 percent are women.

Recent research has found that there are meaningful differences in how men and women practice medicine and communicate with their patients. Because women have faced higher barriers to gain access to the operating room, women surgeons are the very best at their craft.  

In a field that has been traditionally dominated by men, University Surgical Associates is proud to have four highly trained and highly skilled women surgeons who are making waves in their respective areas of expertise and who are providing exceptional care for their patients. Over the next few months, we’ll be profiling Dr. Laura Witherspoon (breast surgery), Dr. Lisa Smith (pediatric surgery), Dr. Erica Clark (vascular surgery) and Dr. Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero (colorectal surgery). 

These top-notch surgeons bring a unique perspective to practicing medicine and are finding ways to encourage and mentor upcoming women surgeons as they navigate medical school, internship and residency training. Read on to learn more about why Dr. Witherspoon chose surgery as a profession, how she handles challenges and what she enjoys most about her career. 

Surgeon Spotlight:
Laura Witherspoon, MD, FACS 

Q: Why did you become a surgeon? 

A: I don’t think you decide to become a surgeon – surgery chooses you. It finds you and you get bitten by the surgery bug, and that’s it. During my third year of medical school, I had no intention of becoming a surgeon. I really enjoyed all the different areas of my training, but the rest of my rotations paled in comparison. It was not a common choice, especially at that time, and not a casual thing to decide. But I was certain it was for me.  

Q: What do you think women in general bring to the field of surgery? What specials skills or perspectives do you have? 

A: It’s been reported that women physicians, on average, spend more time with their patients. Understanding their concerns and connecting personally is a high priority for me. Women have a unique ability to juggle a range of responsibilities while maintaining that deep connection with our patients. I believe this ability to multi-task is also an asset in the operating room. I do things differently from my male colleagues, and I’ve learned through the years not to apologize for it. 

Q: How do you handle the challenging aspects of being a female surgeon?  

A:  When I first joined USA, all of my partners were male and mostly had wives that stayed home. I am married to another surgeon. I was never treated with any lack of respect, but it was difficult to find other women in a similar situation to relate to. No matter if you’re a surgeon or are working in another career, most women retain much of the responsibility for raising the family.

One of the best ways for women to succeed in this male dominated field is to find mentors – women who have gone before and can offers ideas and support as you create a life that includes work and family time. I’ve been lucky to be supported by my colleagues at USA, and together with Dr. Shauna Lorenzo, we’ve created a Lady Surgeons Club. It’s an informal group that meets regularly with female surgery residents. 

When it started, we didn’t have an agenda. We wanted to offer a place where these women could talk about whatever is on their minds. I believe my role is to share my experience and ways I’ve addressed common challenges. I found it helpful to hear how other women surgeons structured their practice, and I like passing on that perspective as we all work to find the right balance for ourselves and our families. 

Q: If you could do it again, would you choose surgery? 

A: Absolutely, I can’t image anything else that would have been this awesome! At 59, I’m at the 10,000-hour level – meaning I’ve been in surgery for that many hours and am at the height of my surgical expertise. Cognitively and technically, I can do the most for my patients right now than at any point in my career.  

Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?  

A: I think this is a common answer among female physicians – I love my patients. I love the feedback and care more about them then the other aspects of my job including what others think about me. It’s the relationship I have with my patients that brings me the most satisfaction. 


Dr. Laura Witherspoon earned her medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. She completed an internship and residency in general surgery at the University of California, Fresno-Central San Joaquin Valley Medical Education in Fresno California. She served as a staff general surgeon in the U.S. Air Force before joining USA in 1997. 

Dr. Witherspoon is an associate professor, department of surgery, UT College of Medicine. She is board certified through the American Board of Surgery (ABS) and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS). Dr. Witherspoon specializes in breast surgery.  

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Witherspoon, call (423) 267-0466

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: surgery

Ask a Doc - Varicose Veins

September 27th, 2018

Q: I HAVE VARICOSE VEINS, AND I DESPERATELY WANT TO GET RID OF THEM. WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THEM?

A: The good news is you can get rid of your varicose veins and treatments are highly successful. 

Varicose veins come in basically two types: cosmetic and symptomatic. Unsightly spider veins are the most common cosmetic, while the more serious symptomatic veins may cause swelling, aching, itching, inflammation and ulcers at the ankle. Many people have both types, which can be determined by an examination. In symptomatic types, ultrasound is also needed to help determine the best treatment.

There are a variety of treatment methods, all performed as an outpatient. Treatment for spider veins is simply injecting the veins using a tiny needle with a solution or small electrical charges that seal the veins. Patients with symptomatic veins require sealing of the main superficial vein with radio waves, laser or glue. In addition, for large varicosities, foam may be needed or small nicks in the skin and removal of the varicosities may be used to complete the treatment.

Most patients are happy with the results and wish they had done it sooner. Don't let the pain and embarrassment of varicose veins keep you from enjoying your life.

— Michael Greer, MD, FACS, RPVI, USA Vascular Surgeon