Ultrasound Technician (Diagnostic Medical Sonographer)

Pros


  • This job helps to diagnose people who may be experiencing a disease or an illness.
  • This is a good job for those who are interested in science and technology, as the work encompasses both fields of study.
  • There is expected to be excellent growth in this career.

Cons

  • Many diagnostic medical sonographers must spend a good deal of time working while on their feet.
  • You will be working with patients who have medical problems, so there may be some pressure involved. You must handle stress well.
  • Because this job records diagnostic attributes of a patient, one must pay close attention to details in order to do this work.

Overview

Diagnostic medical sonographers use machinery to send high-frequency waves into a patient’s body. This is done to help diagnose medical problems. Although sonography machines are usually associated with pregnancy, they can also be used to examine physical properties that cannot be seen by other types of diagnostic equipment such as x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging machines.

One wishing to become a diagnostic medical sonographer must be good with people. They must explain procedures relating to their work to patient and make them feel at ease. Working with highly specialized sonographic equipment, they must make sure that settings are properly calibrated in order to get the right measurements. Many times the area that is being looked at needs to have a special gel applied in order to best direct the waves into the patient’s body. During examination, a diagnostic medical sonographer will look at a screen that shows then a visual representation of the area being examined. They will take the data that they collect and report their findings to a physician who then can further diagnose the patient.

Many diagnostic medical sonographers work for hospitals. Some also work for physicians or private clinics. Others work on contract as part of a medical imaging service. These employees usually go from site to site doing their work, often bringing sonographic equipment with them in a truck our bus as part of a mobile unit. This type of work usually requires a lot of travel.

Education

One can enter the diagnostic medical sonography field through a variety of ways. Some who are already working in hospitals may obtain training on the job as many medical facilities have accredited programs for their employees to gain a certificate in this field. There are also vocational programs, private training centers and community colleges that offer programs. Those in the military can also opt for this type of training if they wish. There are both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in the field, and the latter will offer more opportunities in the long run.
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Job Prospects

Excellent job prospects are expected in this occupation. The health care field is growing at a fast rate as a whole, and diagnostic medical sonographers will benefit from this trend. The aging population is fueling this demand, and more often diagnostic imaging technology is used to try to examine patients. The general consensus is that sonography is a safer alternative than using radiological techniques, and this is causing demand for diagnostic medical sonographers to grow at a very good rate.

Advancement Opportunities

There are some advancement opportunities in this occupation. Those who have a bachelor’s degree or make a commitment to continue their education will see the best opportunities. Diagnostic medical sonographers who are trained to work on different aspects of the body, especially outside of obstetric (pregnancy) work, are usually viewed as authoritative sources of expertise. This can result in better pay and a possible move into the ranks of management.