Being an Ultrasound Technician and Your Career Ahead

Your Career as an Ultrasound Technician

As an ultrasound technician you will specialize in ultrasound technology and use sonographic equipment like transducers to display images inside the body. The career is in demand within the Medical System, and pays an excellent entry level salary. One thing that makes this vocation attractive is that, compared to other medical jobs, the training does not take very long. While other medical careers take 4-6 years, becoming an ultrasound technician can be completed in just 18 months. So if you hold a high school certificate and have strong background and interest in math, science and other health related subjects, then you will be eligible for admission to most ultrasound technician schools.

Ultrasound technicians are the medical professionals who specialize in sonography, which is an ultrasound diagnostic imaging technique used for visualizing subcutaneous body structures including tendons, muscles, joints and internal organs for diagnostic pathology and is commonly used during the pregnancy.  As an ultrasound technician you will be trained how to use ultrasonic equipment, in particular the transducer which displays the internal structure of the body. The working principle of the transducer is the same as of the echolocation technique used by bats and dolphins to navigate. The equipment produces a special sound wave called ultrasound, which is inaudible to human ear, but is transmitted through the body, and reflects off the internal organs and tissue.  The ultrasonic signal is returned to the transducer and translated into an image which is displayed on the monitor screen. The ultrasound technician studies and examines the images for any kind of abnormalities or disorders and records the data on the medical report of the patient.

An applicant can choose from either an associate or bachelor health care degree on a clinical ultrasound program. So to become an ultrasound technician one needs to choose and apply with an ultrasound technician school to be selected to attend that school. Normally the ultrasound technician schools conduct three level education and trainings programs: Diploma or certificate level program, Associate’s degree program and Bachelor’s degree program. At diploma or certificate level you will study introductory subjects within the field of ultrasound technology. You will learn about the medical terminology and ultrasound physics and how to use ultrasound equipment. Some schools provide further trainings and education to prepare student for national registry exams which is often necessary to find job or to apply for an associate’s degree program or bachelor’s degree program. Many entry level jobs on ultrasound technology requires an associate’s degree, therefore a student should aim to complete an associate’s degree as a minimum. At this level, a student is trained to work with sonography equipment and conduct examinations, you will learn how to work with health care teams, communicate using medical terminology and understand how to apply the theory to real life settings. The externship program, lab work and classroom instructions will help to sharpen your learnt skills. You can choose a particular field to specialize like obstetrics, abdominal sonography or vascular sonography. A bachelor’s degree in ultrasound technology can be a great help to someone who is pursuing a management career or advanced study and expertise on this field. This program combines general academic courses with higher level courses for more advanced education, study and research.

A student can also choose to specialize in a particular field of ultrasound technology. There are number of areas to choose from like echocardiography, vascular technology, ophthalmology etc but the four major specialties that most sonographers choose are as follows:

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            1. Obsteric and gynecology sonography – In this field you use the sonographic equipment to measure fetal growth and development during pregnancy. The ultrasound technician also uses the technology to examine the female reproductive system for any kinds of gynecological problems like cysts and uterine cancer.
            2. Breast sonography – The ultrasound technician uses transducers for examining the breast tissue for any kind of abnormal growth or cancer. It is also used to monitor the blood supply and assist with biopsies.
            3. Neurosonography – The sonographers use the technology to study and examine the human nervous system and brain. The technology is also used for assessing blood flow and stenoses in the cardiac arteries.
            4. Abdominal sonography – Sonographers in this field use the technology to examine and scan the internal organs in the abdominal area including spleen, liver, pancreas, kidneys and gallbladder for any kinds of defect or abnormalities.

             

            As mentioned earlier, a student should aim to complete at least a two year associate’s degree in ultrasound technology.  Preferably, the training should be undertaken at a college or school that is accredited by the Commissions on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). An applicant would be required to have completed a high school diploma before applying for admission for enrolment. Having a strong background in math, science or any heath related subject is an advantage for students, and may be an important factor in the selection process. Upon completion of the training program, students are eligible to register as professional sonographers, and are able to commence practise at the standards for employment according to the employment policy of their respective country.

            Most ultrasound technicians work in hospitals, medical facilities, physician offices and diagnostic laboratories. They generally work within separate consultation rooms with ultrasonic equipment, but may also have to perform sonography on patients at other places using mobile imaging devices. They are responsible for preparing patients for ultrasound procedures and also to perform the procedure itself. They examine the images for any kind of abnormalities or diseases and record the data for each patient in a systematic process. This data will provide necessary information to a primary healthcare provider in the diagnosis of various medical conditions. It is important to note that the ultra sound technician will have to deal with different types of people with different health conditions, and it is therefore important to ensure that one knows how to deal with patients in a friendly, calm and respectful manner. An ultrasound technician has to stand on their feet for mosty of their work day and may have to lift and turn a disabled patient, so they need to be strong and healthy.

            The career itself is rewarding, and pays an excellent entry level salary. If one chooses to specialize in a particular field then it can be more lucrative. The most attractive aspect of this program is the fact that the training does not take as long as other medical training. You can become a sonographer in just 18 months and will start earning money immediately. Like many medical professions, ultrasound technicians also enjoy job security, as more and more hospitals are focusing on outpatient care as a way of saving money, which has resulted in an increase in the job opportunities.

            Ultrasound technician is a lucrative career that offers you job satisfaction and opportunities for professional development. If you have a high school certificate with strong background in math, science and other health related subjects then being an ultrasound technician can be a great career choice. You just need to apply or enrol at a college or school that provides quality training in ultrasound technology. You can also choose a particular field to specialize as an ultrasound technician. The number of hospitals and other health care centres are increasing thus causing an increase in demand for ultrasound technicians. This is an exciting career and you are guaranteed it will take you places on your future career path.

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