If you are considering a job in the healthcare field, you may be wondering what is a Sonogram Technician or Ultrasound Technician? They are also called diagnostic medical sonographers and they play a key role when it comes to identifying, monitoring, and treating medical conditions and diseases.
What is an Ultrasound Exam?
Unlike x-rays which only capture images of bones using radiation, ultrasounds record images of blood flow, internal tissues and organs, and they do not use radiation. These scans are done in different dimensions including three-dimensional, and are a non-evasive and safe way to diagnose patients.
The main aspect of the job is capturing images of patients’ internal body structures in order for physicians to diagnose a wide array of medical conditions including cancer and heart disease. Other duties include:
- Analyzing ultrasound data
- Archiving ultrasound images on a computer
- Explaining the ultrasound process to patients
- Preparing patients for their exam
- Taking patient medical histories
- Giving an oral or written summary of the ultrasound findings to physicians and radiologists
- Performing routine maintenance of the ultrasound equipment such as calibrating the machine after each patient
- Sterilizing the patient table
Are there Specialties?
Yes. Because the body structures such as the abdomen, heart, and female reproductive system each require different scanning techniques, there are several specializations in which you can choose:
- Abdomen and breast
- Adult echocardiography
- Fetal echocardiography
- Obstetrics and gynecology
- Pediatric echocardiography
- Vascular technology
Ultrasound technicians can find employment in physician’s offices, hospitals, medical and diagnostic labs, outpatient centers, and other healthcare facilities. They can also find work as traveling technicians who move from different locations around the United Sates or abroad. Some even find positions as mobile sonographers, meaning they transport mobile sonograph machines in order treat patients who unable to travel to a clinic or hospital.
What is a Typical Day Like?
Usually new graduates work eight-hour shifts in a hospital setting. Within that time, they often perform ten to fifteen ultrasounds and note the necessary documentation for each one.
In order to have a successful career, you should have excellent verbal and interpersonal skills, good critical thinking skills, good manual dexterity, and physical stamina.
Generally ultrasound technicians need to have at least an associate degree to work in this field. Programs are found at community colleges, universities, and vocational schools. Coursework includes anatomy, medical ethics, medical terminology, patient care, and physiology. Before enrolling in a program, confirm that it’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health and Education Programs.
This is not legally required, though it is best to pass the exam in order to have more job prospects and a higher salary. You must have at least one year of clinical experience before becoming certified, and the most general is the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer certification administered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Sonographers (ARDMS). It covers equipment, physics, and sonography principles, and it shows employers that you achieved a general level of competence. Other certifications offered by the ARDMS are: Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer, Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretations, and Registered Vascular Technologist. The specialty exams cover the normal and diseased anatomy of the organs.
You can also earn certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
Ultrasound technicians can progress to supervisory positions such as senior technologist, chief technologist, and assistant chief technologist.
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for medical sonographers are expected to rise 46 percent in the next decade. The median annual salary in 2013 was $66,410. It’s based on location, education, certification, and advancement.
If you would like to learn more about this fulfilling career, contact us at Ultrasound Technician today.