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Sonography is a rewarding career path that helps advance medical knowledge and improve patient care. As the American population ages due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, non-invasive diagnostic medical imaging will be in higher demand than it once was. Unlike other medical devices, ultrasound machines do not have any harmful side effects. This means that the sonographer or ultrasound technician can perform their duties without the protective gear needed for x-rays and other procedures. While there are still many benefits to embarking on an ultrasound career, but there are some risks as well.
An Increased Job Demand
One of the biggest benefits of working as an ultrasound technician is the fact that their field is rapidly growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has noted that demand for sonographers will increase by 46 percent between 2012 and 2022. This means that ultrasound technicians will enjoy increased job opportunities as their services become vital to the healthcare industry.
Muscle Strain and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
According to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, ultrasound technicians face an increased risk of musculo-skeletal injuries. This is partly due to the fact that they are expected to lift, push and pull weights of over 30 pounds of a regular basis. They also end up standing for approximately 80% of the time they are working, which can put stress on the feet, back and hips. In addition, sonographers are especially susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This is because they must hold a transducer for long periods of time in order for the sound waves to emit into a patient’s body. Unfortunately, transducers must sometimes be held at awkward angles, which can put extra pressure on the wrist and cause strain. Elbow and neck pain are also common issues. Sonographers should be careful to stretch and remain well-hydrated while they work. They should also wear shoes with good support in order to prevent excessive pain and fatigue.
Because sonographers are part of a patient-facing service, they have the chance to provide a personal touch to patient care. Many ultrasound technicians find that this is an intensely rewarding experience. For example, they are there when new parents discover the sex of their baby for the first time. A sonographer can use their skills to successful locate and diagnose tumors and growths in a woman’s breast, which can help patients quickly develop a plan of action together with their doctor. Ultrasound technicians provide medical services that are non-invasive and non-harmful, which many patients find reassuring. Many sonographers consider the satisfaction they feel while working to be one of the biggest benefits of their job.