An ultrasound technician, also called a diagnostic medical sonographer or just sonographer, is a specialized medical practitioner that uses ultrasound equipment to assist doctors in making a diagnosis of a patient’s condition. Ultrasound technology is very effective at getting real-time recordings and freeze-frame images of soft tissue in the body. It is one of the few safe ways to monitor the workings of organs and view an unborn fetus in the womb, and is generally used when x-rays cannot be. Sonographers tend to be in high demand due to the large number of useful procedures they can perform. Most hospitals and clinics hire at least one sonographer. Often they will hire several. While there is no professional license required to be a sonographer, formal training is required.
The Degree Path
Gaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is one of the best ways to become a sonographer. Certain colleges and technical schools offer degree programs specifically for sonographers. These programs take the same amount of time as any other degree, usually between two and four years. It is also possible to get qualified sonographer training with just a few classes after a related science or medical degree such as microbiology or nursing has been obtained. This is usually a one year certification program.
Sonographers following the degree or certification path will take a variety of medical classes, including anatomy and physiology, patient care, medical ethics and instrument training. There is usually additional training on the job once a sonographer has been hired.
Unlike many professional practices that require a license, there are no formal licensing requirements for a sonographer. Despite this, a candidate will have a much better resume if they carry a credential from a formal organization such as The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. This credential requires passing an exam and having a combination of related education credits and work experience. It is also important that the candidate’s original degree comes from an accredited program.
Outside of formal education, there are a variety of skills that help make an excellent sonographer. The sonographer will usually be directly responsible for patient care and will often deal with patients in compromised positions. They must have good interpersonal skills, and the physical stamina to lift and move compromised patients. Attention to detail is a must because the sonographer must sort the large volume of data they will get during a procedure and provide the patient’s physician with the most useful images. A patient’s life may depend on spotting the correct detail during the procedure.
The Advantages of Sonographer Education
Sonographers command excellent pay within the medical field, and they have much smaller education requirements than nurses or doctors. After a few years of experience and some additional education, a sonographer can easily move into a managerial position in a radiology department. A sonographer degree is also an excellent step for a student who wishes to take their education further and become a formal radiologist, or doctor of radiology. There are many exciting and challenging opportunities in this field.