If you are looking for a healthcare profession that is in high demand, an ultrasound technician may be the career for you.
What Does an Ultrasound Technician Do?
Ultrasound technicians are responsible for many day-to day duties that include:
- Explaining the procedure to patients
- Consulting with medical professionals
- Noting the medical history of each patient
- Sterilizing the patient table
- Calibrating the machine after each patient
- Positioning patients to capture the best images
- Using a transducer which sends out sound waves either in a cone-shaped or rectangle-shaped beam
- Selecting the proper equipment settings
- Taking measurements and calculating values
- Determining if the images are suitable for diagnostic purposes
- Analyzing the results
- Storing images on a computer
- Providing an oral or written explanation of the preliminary findings to the physician
There are several specialties from which ultrasound technicians can choose. They include:
Abdominal Sonography – Ultrasound technicians who choose this field are responsible for capturing the internal organs in the abdominal area such as the liver, kidneys, and spleen.
Adult Echocardiography – Also called cardiac sonographers, they obtain images of an adult patient’s heart and vessels that physicians use to diagnose cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, pericardial disease, and valvular disease.
Breast Sonography – Those who work in this specialty obtain more detailed images of an abnormality felt during a clinical exam or seen on a mammogram.
Echocardiography – Ultrasound technicians who specialize in echocardiography work to assist physicians during cardiac catheterizations, electrocardiograms, lung capacity and other diagnostic tests.
Fetal Echocardiography – Ultrasound technicians produce images of a child’s heart and vessels that aid physicians in diagnosing congenital heart disease, and other conditions.
Neurosonology – This specialty requires ultrasound technicians to produce images of the brain, nervous system, and spinal cord.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Sonographer – This is one of the more popular specialties, and images are obtained of an unborn child or organs within the pelvic regions so physicians can make a diagnosis.
Ophthalmology – Ultrasound technicians in this area capture images of the eye for diagnosis.
Vascular Technology – This specialty centers on obtaining images of a patient’s arteries, pathology, and veins that physicians use to diagnose aneurysms, blood clots, and other conditions.
What is the Required Education?
Earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree or higher is a must for anyone wanting to enter this field. Courses vary from program to program and by which specialty students choose, but some of the most common classes are:
Medical Terminology – This course involves the terminology for anything related to diseases, human anatomy, medical devices, and medications.
Physiology – During this course, students gain an understanding of how the body’s internal organs work and what they’re functions are. Some schools combine this course with anatomy.
Patient Care – Students learn the best way to interact with patients, how to chart their history, and how to ready them for the exam.
Equipment Use and Maintenance – This course teaches students how to operate transducers, scan converters, and other machines along with how to maintain equipment and how to identify technical problems.
Is Certification Required?
Certification is only mandatory in states which require licensure. However, most employers will only hire ultrasound technicians who have earned the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The reason for this is many insurance providers only pay for procedures performed by a certified ultrasound technician.
What is the Job Outlook and Salary?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs to rise 46 percent from 2012 to 2022. The average salary is $66,410, and is dependent on location, education, and certification.
If you would like to learn more about this profession, please contact us at Ultrasound Technician.