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Lawsuit: Ultrasound Students Pressured Into Procedure

Two former students in a Florida community college ultrasound program say they were punished for objecting to a policy that encouraged students to undergo an invasive vaginal procedure to become better technicians.

The two unnamed female students filed a federal lawsuit last week against Valencia State College in Orlando, claiming the policy violated their civil rights under the First and Fourth amendments.

The lawsuit says that instructors told them the procedure, which checks for fertility problems, was voluntary but that students who refused were browbeaten and their academic standing was threatened.

One instructor threatened to blacklist the students from central Florida hospitals if they refused to undergo the procedure, and their complaints fell on deaf ears with administrators, so the students withdrew from the program, the lawsuit said.

In the procedure, a probe is inserted into the patient’s vagina. The lawsuit claimed the school had an alternative to having students practice on each other, including a simulator dummy and could practice on real patients in a medical environment.

“Plaintiffs would disrobe in a restroom, drape themselves in towels, and traverse the sonography classroom in full view of instructors and other students,” the lawsuit said.

The two students experienced “discomfort and embarrassment” during the sessions, the lawsuit said. They are seeking an unspecified amount of money in damages.

School spokeswoman Carol Traynor said Tuesday that the program upholds the highest standards, but officials were reviewing the practice to make sure it was effective for learning. The school hadn’t yet been served with the lawsuit, she said, so she couldn’t comment on the specific allegations.

“The use of volunteers including fellow students, for medical sonography training is a nationally accepted practice,” Traynor said in a statement. “Valencia’s sonography program has upheld the highest standards with respect to ultrasound scanning for educational purposes, including voluntary participation and professional supervision by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting.”