There are many important members of a medical team but the one most often overlooked is the diagnostic medical sonographer (better known as ultrasound technologist). These are the folks that will work in close contact with doctors so that a precise, dependable diagnosis is made and proper treatment can begin. These techs are primarily responsible for obtaining visual pictures within the body using an ultrasound imaging scan.
The scan works by uses the high-frequency sound waves to generate pictures of the body’s blood flow, internal organs and tissues. However, getting pictures from within the body isn’t their only responsibility; they must also incorporate the data into the medical history of the patient as well as the physical measurement and lab work to reach that medical conclusion. The tech’s report is then sent to the patient’s doctor for more review and then a diagnosis is made. Thus, it’s highly important that ultrasound technologists learn to work in close conjunction with every member of a healthcare team.
Sonographers will also need to speak with patients efficiently and honestly to convey the procedures and answer questions they may have about the test. Other jobs they have are:
- Obtaining a patient’s precise medical history
- Prepare patient before the exam
- Perform clerical work including scheduling and organizing and archiving medical reports
Prospective ultrasound techs will need the right educational background and training through an accredited ultrasound school. Schools are given approvals and accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health and Education Programs (CAAHEP). These programs are offered in many places such as universities, colleges, medical centers and hospitals. How long one takes to become certified as an ultrasound technologists depend on the type of degree the prospective tech is after in ultrasound technology:
- Ultrasound certificate or diploma – 1 to 2 years (usually done right after high school)
- Associate’s degree – 2 years completion time
- Bachelor’s degree – 4 years completion time
Every ultrasound program has its own set of requirements but most require the following courses before obtaining an associate or bachelor degree. They are:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Basic Patient Care
- College Algebra and Trigonometry
- Medical Terminology
- Sectional Anatomy
- Writing Workshops
Once the above courses have been completed, the following ultrasound classes will need to be taken to receive an associate’s degree in medical sonography.
- Abdominal Sonography
- Cardiac Sonography
- Clinical Externship
- Clinical Sonography
- General Psychology
- Gynecological Sonography
- Medical Ethics
- Obstetrical Sonography
- Physics and Instrumentations
- Vascular Sonography
After an associate’s degree is obtained, a student may enter the bachelor degree programs upon successful completion of an associate’s degree in medical sonography. The bachelor’s degree program courses are designed to encourage a strong background in science and proficiency in certain sonography areas that involve actual hand-on experience and training in many areas including obstetrics, pediatrics, cardiac, gynecology, abdomen and many more. In the senior year, potential sonographers will choose one or two specialized areas.