Ultrasound technicians are responsible for producing images of a patient’s body structures using high frequency sound waves. These images aid physicians in making a diagnosis or monitoring medical conditions.
What Are the Requirements for an Ultrasound Technician?
These technicians have many duties that they are responsible for on a regular basis. They include:
- Placing a transducer on a patient’s skin to capture the required images
- Communicating with patients and answering their questions
- Communicating with medical personnel
- Recording patient medical histories
- Analyzing data
- Summarizing findings for the physician
- Archiving ultrasound images on a computer
- Looking on the screen for cues that contrast healthy areas with unhealthy ones
- Taking measurements and calculating values
- Selecting appropriate machine settings
- Moving patients into the proper position(s) for the scan
To be successful, ultrasound technicians need the following skills:
- Excellent verbal communication
- Ability to use scientific rules and methods to solve problems
- Good attention to detail
- Good time management
Ultrasound technicians cannot work in this field until they have a high school diploma or GED, and at least an Associate of Applied Science degree that takes two years to complete. However, many students are opting to earn a Bachelor of Science degree so they have better job opportunities and a higher salary. Coursework is widely available at community colleges, universities, and trade and vocational schools. All programs need to have accreditation issued by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. This credential not only tells students that they are enrolling in a quality program, but it makes it easier to take the optional certification exam once they are eligible. The curriculum depends on the school, and classes may include:
Physiology – This course involves learning how the organs work inside the body and what their functions are.
Patient Care – During this course, students learn the proper way to communicate with patients, how to record their medical history, and how to prepare them for procedures.
Equipment Use and Maintenance – This course explains how to use scan converters, transducers, and other machines along with maintenance and how to identify technical difficulties.
Medical Terminology – Students learn terminology that relates to anatomy, diseases, medical devices, and medications.
Sonographic Pathology – Students study the common disease processes that are relevant to the sonography field.
Doppler Instruments and Instrumentation – The study of the display mode, resolution, hemodynamics, and other instruments related to ultrasound technology.
Once students complete all of their coursework, it is time for an externship. This allows them to gain hands-on experience in a real medical setting (hospital, laboratory, or physician’s office) under the watchful eye of an experienced ultrasound technician. Progress reports are given to the students during the externship which usually lasts six months.
Before you begin your program, you will likely need to pass a background check and have certain immunizations updated. It is also reasonable to expect a clinical site to require a drug screen before allowing you to start your externship.
Strength and Mobility Requirements
- Ability to lift, handle, and carry ultrasound accessories that weigh up to forty pounds
- Ability to stand, sit, bend, and stoop for long periods of time in a dimly lit room for up to 12 hours per day.
- Ability to push, pull, and manipulate a mobile ultrasound machine for patient bedside exams that weigh up to 600 pounds
- Ability to fully use both wrists, hands, and shoulders
- Ability to transfer patients to and from beds, stretchers, and wheelchairs
If you have any questions on the requirements to become an ultrasound technician, or if you would like to learn about schools, please contact us at Ultrasound Technician for more information.