Wānaka Sun       

Local sonographer receives triple honour

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 12 Nov, 2020 | By Joanna Perry newsdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz

Sonographer Jill Muirhead (64) has said she is very proud to have been awarded three separate awards in the last six months. 

Muirhead, who trained at Dunedin Hospital in 1979, now works predominantly in Wanaka with Pacific Radiology, where she and her husband moved eight years ago. She has been working for the same group of radiologists (then Otago Radiology) since 1986.

Muirhead was recently named Australasian Sonographer of the Year for 2020 by the Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine- an award she felt “particularly honoured” by, having been nominated by a peer. Alongside that, she has been awarded a fellowship for the Australasian Sonographers Association - based on service given to lecturing, research and teaching - and an honorary fellowship to the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. 

This was the “biggest surprise of all,” said Muirhead, as fellowships usually go to GPs. The honour was given to Muirhead and her colleague Wendy Finnie for their work teaching ultrasound to rural hospital doctors - developing and delivering an internationally-renowned course at the University of Otago.

Dr Jennifer Keys, Chair of the Division of Rural Hospital Medicine, said: “It is difficult to overestimate the influence that Jill and Wendy's teaching has had on rural hospital medicine; most rural hospital doctors have completed their paper, which has made point of care ultrasound an important diagnostic tool at almost every rural hospital in New Zealand.”

Muirhead now travels to Dunedin or Dunstan just three times a year for residentials or conducts teaching online, but she still thoroughly enjoys her work for Pacific Radiology Wanaka. There is a worldwide shortage of sonographers, especially in New Zealand, mostly as a result of the expense of securing the required three-year practical training position, and helping younger sonographers develop their skills is very important to her.

“I can't see that I'll have to retire too soon. I'll give myself another five years,” she said. “We have an awesome team here in Wanaka and we are very, very lucky to have a full group.”



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