Ultrasound Technician Job Description: Prior Information You Should Know

Alternate Name’s For Ultrasound Technician: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Ultrasonographer, Ultrasound Technologist, Sonographer

Expected Salary: $53,000 – $80,000 + Benefits which vary

Employment Prospects: Good

Ultrasound Technician Training Programs: Numerous

Advancement Career Prospects: Exceptional

Best geographical locations to Practice: NY and Washington DC pay the highest.

The Life of a Sonographer – Insight to Their Everyday Work:-

With medical technology going places, a career in diagnostic medicine is a shot in the arm and job outlooks for ultrasound technicians continue to prosper and shine as never before. So what constitutes his daily work? Why is it one of the fastest emerging offshoots of medicine ever has become increasingly positive in the past few years alone? What can one expect in this branch of diagnostic medicine? What Contributes to its growth? These are some aspects which we will try to answer along with plethora of other ultrasound technician’s job related descriptions.

If there is one standout job feature for Ultrasonography it is that it requires direct contact with patients, so it’s important for a Sonographer to have strong communicative and interpersonal skills, it not only means ability to speak efficiently but it also means handling patients along with their current mental states skills  who come for diagnosis effectively. The patient’s emotional state may be that of nervousness, depression, stressed out, whatever the patients qualms the ultrasound technician should be able to ally his fears and make him comfortable and relaxed before moving on to testing.

Symbolically ultrasound sonography has been involved in fetal scan that protrudes the image of a baby on a black and white monitor, but it would be ignorant to think that is all what ultrasound sonography does, for it has a broader scope used much beyond our conventional understanding of sonography. It has been used in various diagnostic fields such as obstetrics, vascular technology, cardiac diagnosis, abdominal diagnosis, diseases of the spleen, liver, brain, kidney etc. Ultrasound being a noninvasive technology and one which is safer compared to radiation based diagnosis, ultrasound technicians sure need to be equipped with the daily challenges that they face in all these fields and  which include both physical and mental strengths, a thorough understanding of various diseases, their pathology and medicine as a whole before taking up to the lab.

Ultrasonographer – The Job Description

A Sonographer also has a moral obligation towards his patients and does just more than handling and training his imaging equipments on.  It requires adroit skill sets that are able to handle and strike balance between technical performance and patient interaction.

Some of his General work based attributes would include:

Patient interaction:- If one thing the ultrasound tech is obligated to do is interact with patients, in a certain extent much more than what the doctor does, he needs to address their qualms, briefly enunciate  the  procedure of ultrasonagraphy to patients, be patient in handling their questions and answer  to them in a manner understandable to them.

Knowledge about medicine and updating them: – Dealing with diagnostic medicine requires a through and firm knowledge relevant to physiology, anatomy and pathology. It’s important he keeps himself updated on all these subjects through cohesive interaction with physicians and other members of the healthcare team along with reading the latest medical journals.

Sterility and Hygiene: – Maintaining good lab practices through standard sterility procedures such as fumigation, antiseptics, and disinfectant use along with maintaining personal hygiene such as wearing masks, gloves and suits wherever necessary.

Preparing Patients for Procedure: – It involves getting accustomed to patient’s medical history and finding the exact reason for the ultrasound scan being done. After doing so the patient needs to be relaxed on the bed and applying the ultrasound gel on the surface of the external area which has to be imaged. Following which the probe / transducer is allowed to capture every angle/ section that needed to be analyzed/

Evaluation and Assessment: – Once the probe captures these images, it’s necessary to be evaluated for quality and interpreted accurately. These images and preliminary findings are then forwarded to doctors and other healthcare team members.

Administrative Tasks:- In addition to technician and patient interactive skills, it’s necessary that the ultrasound tech is capable of performing simple administrative tasks such as patient file maintenance,  reviewing patient medical history and recording  any significant findings.

Inventories:– Should perform regular tasks such as stock checks

Sample Job Postings: Desired Skill sets:-

On an average in the U.S there are 3 vacancies posted for ultrasound technicians every two days in popular job sites which is quite high, different employers specify different requisites across various specialties, its best you get an idea of the job responsibilities that an employer seeks, here are some experts which are borrowed from some popular job sites.

E.g. 1

“Vacancy for Diagnostic Ultrasound  Technologist “

Job Responsibilities include

“Performing ultrasound examinations of neck, abdomen, chest, retroperitoneal space and extremities, for diagnostic purpose pertaining to high quality examinations and assisting to treatment of patient medical disorders”.

“Should participate in the training of students, physicians, and radiology technicians and help them develop an understanding of the procedures and principles involved in ultrasound and its analysis”.

“Capable of maintaining patient medical records and cross-indexing interesting case findings for  further study and  teaching purposes”.

“Capable of assisting radiologists in aspiration biopsies, cyst punctures, catheter placements for the use of ultrasound techniques in diagnostic treatment”.

“Should assist in periodic quality checks and helping  quality assurance technologists in performing quality related testing procedures on the ultrasound equipments  using phantoms, test tools, tech check lists, etc”.

“Knowledge about good lab practices and should perform / supervise routine housekeeping duties pertaining to hygiene and sterilization of ultrasound lab area”.

Ultrasound Specialization and their Job Functionalities:-

A  Ultrasound Technician training can include specialized areas and the job duties and skill sets may require a person to perform a wide variety of tasks relevant to their specialized area. Here we deal with some specialized areas that ultrasound technicians choose and job duties associated with that.

1)      Abdominal Sonography

Are ultrasound techs who specialize in diagnostic imaging of organs and tissues in the abdominal area such like liver, pancreas, gall bladder, kidneys, spleen etc.

Their job duties include studying blood vessels and normal physiology of organs with the help of Doppler sonography. It can be useful in diagnosis of enzyme profiles, functioning abnormalities if any which include tumors or stones of any kind with other suspected abnormalities in the abdominal area.

2)      Cardiovascular Sonography

Are ultrasound techs who specialize in diagnostic imaging of heart, their valves and associated blood flow which is function of heart. It is now possible to use 3D and 4D imagery techniques considering the rapid advances in technology and heart disease being the No 1 Killer in U.S, its most favored diagnostic option for diagnosis

Their job duties include studying size and shape of the heart as well as the pumping capacity through sonography which determines blood flow rate, which in turn can be useful in predicting functional abnormalities such as blockage which may increase chances of cardiac arrest, or can be useful in studying heart valves and defects such as septal valve defects, pulmonary valve defects amongst others cardio pulmonary defects and abnormalities.

3)      Obstetric & Gynecological Sonography

They are ultrasound techs that specialize in diagnostic imaging on health and progress of embryo development in pregnant mothers

Job duties include gathering and analyzing obtain images of the female abdominal areas which cover female reproductive organs such as uterus, ovaries, cervix fallopian tubes and bladder.  They are useful in predetermining chances of miscarriage based on position of embryo in uterus, and also by studying the physiology of female reproductive organs are useful diagnostic options for  female infertility and other related abnormalities.

4)      Vascular Sonography

They are ultrasound techs that specialize in diagnostic imaging of blood flow and physiology of blood vessels.

Job duties include gathering ultrasound data pertaining to blood flow rate, useful in diagnosis of hypertension, cardiac myopia, and abnormalities such as blockages in blood vessels and determining any internal blood clots in various parts during event of injury. They are also useful diagnostic treatment tools especially during angioplasty which involves reopening blocked blood vessels. Thus vascular sonography is effective diagnosis and treatment tools.

5)      Neurosonology

They are ultrasound techs that specialize in diagnostic imaging of nervous system.

Job duties include performing sonography on the central nervous system, head, and neck to study electrical activity and impulses in the brain. They have proven significant to locating brain tumors and diagnosis of stroke and other nervous

6)      Ophthalmology

They are ultrasound techs that specialize in diagnostic imaging the eye.

Job duties include performing ultrasound sonography on the eye to obtain cross sectional images of the eye. Useful for diagnosis of any disorders that affect the eye and can also be useful during treatment of cataract or which involves cornea transplantation.

Ultrasound Job Work Schedules

Ultrasound technicians enjoy the privilege of flexible work schedules just like a physician does. While hospitals are comparatively less supple, clinics however are not with working schedules close to 6-8 hours. An Ultrasound technician also enjoys freedom of opting and choosing a variety of part -time and full-time working schedules.

Enhancing Job Prospects: Through Education and Training:-

Not all ultrasound technicians enjoy rich privileges, but not to dismay there is hope for them through various training educational programs and completing national certification such as ARDMS. Once cleared they can prove to be advantageous providing the necessary thrust to enjoy and grow in his career

Salary, Stats and Workplaces:-

Ultrasound technicians can choose diverse range of places to work from, which include hospitals, private clinics diagnostic labs, imaging labs, health care facilities, emergency clinics, and local health offices. Salary is dependent on wide array of factors which include geographical location. According to the US Department of Labor the average salary for ultrasound techie is circa $57,000 per year for of which most fall in a broad range of $43,600 to $80,000 per year, with the highest salary pay to ultrasound technicians being $83,000. The salary of the vascular technologist was fond to be one among the highest while that of ophthalmology was found to be the least.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for diagnostic medical sonographers and ultrasound technicians looks very promising; the number of positions is expected to grow by 44% through to the year 2020. An ultrasound technician has the broadest career prospects in hospitals/ healthcare centers. For this very reason large populations of ultrasound technicians choose hospitals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, 61% of diagnostic medical sonographers worked in hospitals. Job responsibilities in hospitals include managing time between patient communication and conducting tests which forms the technical side. It’s very crucial that ultrasound technicians alternate their time by going to patient rooms to conduct sonography and having patients come to their particular departmental lab in the hospital wherein they can interact personally and conduct related tests. Also in a hospital environment, sonographers are provided with an opportunity to work in tandem with other imaging technicians, which include the medical fraternity such as doctors, student interns, radiologic technicians, surgeons and others

Not all diagnostic imaging technicians are the same, ultrasound technician do have two standout features and that is its noninvasive and safe when compared to other imaging techniques such as X-rays, MRIs and CT scans for they employ sound waves instead of radiation. Though the nature of work differs from one another it’s essential they complement one another for very often the diagnosis and treatment overlap with each other. For Example a radiologic technician performing diagnosis of breast tumor may require Sonographer expertise in determining the location while taking the mammogram.

The job in addition to offering varied career scope also provides scope for research where sonographers collaborate with physicians for medical research. There is also the prospect of minimizing career related risks with ultrasound technician enjoying the key stone aspect of job security which is ever increasing. Thus ultrasound technicians with their multidimensional tasks levels, technical skill sets and personal communication skills are truly the modern unsung heroes of today.

 

About Reena Sharma

Reena is as a Business Consultant within the law sector. Throughout the country she works with firms offering strategic advice and business growth support. Reena also has a passion for growing start-ups from small companies all the way to large exits.

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