Ultrasound Technologists and Medical Sonographers
- Good career outlook
- Clean, organized work environment
- Work involves helping people
- Field has room to evolve and grow
In the field of medical diagnostics, the role of the Ultrasound Technologist is increasingly significant. Also called Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Ultrasound Technologists use ultrasound to produce images of soft-tissue structures or objects within the human body. These structures can include tumors, gallstones, or as is commonly associated with ultrasound, the fetus during pregnancy.
Ultrasound Technologists can generate still photographs of these structures, or in some cases, a videotaped sequence. This provides a real-life snapshot of the inside of a patient's body, greatly assisting doctors in their diagnoses.
How Ultrasound Works
The images generated by Ultrasound Technologists are created using sound waves, similar to the way bats and dolphins use echolocation to detect objects in front of them. The Ultrasound Technologist uses a handheld device called a transducer, which emits the sound waves in a cone- or rectangle-shaped beam.
Using a special, conductive gel, the Ultrasound Technologist places the transducer against the patient's body, aiming the beam toward the area to be examined. The transducer collects the reflected echoes and forms the image, which shows up on a monitor. The Ultrasound Technologist may need to position the patient to allow the best angle for the sound beam.
Ultrasound Technologist Training
Training for Ultrasound Technologists can take place on the job, at career schools and universities, or in the armed forces. Colleges and universities usually offer 2-year associate or 4-year bachelor programs, with 2-year degrees being the most common.
Coursework may include:
- Basic physics
- Patient care
- Medical ethics
(More information about finding Ultrasound Technologist training can be found in the Additional Links section below.)
Registration and Accreditation
Entrants into the field will benefit from voluntary registration, as most employers prefer to hire Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS). One way of becoming registered is to take the examinations administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). For more information, visit their Web site, listed in the resources below.
Another important factor Ultrasound entrants may consider is accreditation. There are no universally agreed-upon training requirements for Ultrasound Technologists, but employers tend to prefer graduates of programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). For more information on accreditation, see the CAAHEP Web site in the resources below.
The US Labor Bureau predicts a faster-than-average job outlook for properly trained and registered Ultrasound Technologists, with employment predicted to grow 19% during the decade from 2006 to 2016. This growth can be attributed to increased interest in ultrasound as a safer alternative to radiologic procedures, as well as a growing population of elderly and a rapidly expanding health care industry in general.
Additional Information available here...
See Additional Information links below
- Associate or Bachelor degree in science or health care
Ability to work with patients
Precise record keeping ability
Equipment handling and maintenance
Background in science or health care