Ultrasound technicians are trained healthcare professionals who conduct ultrasound exams in order for physicians to diagnose or monitor health conditions.
Ultrasound Technician’s Job Description
Some duties depend on the ultrasound technician’s specialty, while others are more general. They include:
- Consulting with a range of medical professionals
- Confirming a patient’s clinical history and health status
- Explaining the ultrasound procedure and answering patients’ questions
- Administering contrast media through an intravenous line when required by a physician
- Positioning patients
- Placing gel on the exam site and using a transducer to produce images on the screen
- Analyzing real-time data to ensure the best images are being captured
- Taking measurements
- Making sure patient care standards are met before, during, and after the procedure
- Identifying and documenting any unexpected results that could mean more testing is necessary or that the patient needs urgent medical attention
- Presenting an oral or written summary of the preliminary findings to the prescribing physician
- Maintaining a daily log of patients seen
- Performing routine maintenance on equipment
- Calibrating the machine after each exam
- Sterilizing the transducer and patient table
- Preparing work schedules
Ultrasound technicians should possess the following skills:
- Strong communication skills
- Good interpersonal skills
- Good time management
- Ability to work efficiently
- Ability to effectively handle a medical emergency
Equipment Used by Ultrasound Technicians
- A central processing unit
- Transducer (probe)
- Disk storage devices
- Monitor and printer
- A keyboard that contains knob controls
- Strength to transfer patients to and from beds, wheelchairs, and stretchers as well as the ability to push or pull equipment that weighs up to 600 pounds
- Physical stamina to stand, sit, or bend for long periods of time
- The use of both shoulders, hands, and wrists
- Good eye-hand coordination in order to capture the best possible images
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs has accredited over 150 ultrasound technician training programs throughout the country. They are often found at community colleges, universities, trade schools, teaching hospitals, and the armed forces.
One-year program – This is only for healthcare workers who have decided they would like to become ultrasound technicians.
Two-year program – This is the most common path for an ultrasound technician. At the end, students earn an Associate of Applied Science degree.
Four-year program – This is a more formal option and students earn a bachelor’s degree upon completion that will give them better jobs and higher wages.
Courses vary, but some of the more common ones are:
Anatomy – This course covers the different structures and organs within the human body. Some schools combine anatomy with physiology, which is the study of how the internal organs work and what their functions are.
Ultrasound Principles – Students will need to complete several courses that center around the principles behind ultrasound technology, including how sonography works and how to prepare patients for exams.
Medical Terminology – This course teaches students the terminology necessary to communicate with physicians and other healthcare professionals. The terminology will include human anatomy, diseases, and medicines.
Except in states where licensure is mandatory, certification is not required. However, many employers will only hire ultrasound technicians who have passed the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer exam.
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of new positions will increase 46 percent through 2022. Hospitals employ the most ultrasound technicians, but don’t rule out looking for employment in an outpatient facility. More and more are hiring ultrasound technicians now that the equipment is becoming more mobile and less expensive to buy. The average median salary for this profession is $66,410.
If you would like to learn more about an ultrasound technician’s job duties, or if you have other questions about this career, contact us today.