Becoming an Ultrasound Technologist – the Job Duties and Educational Requirements
An ultrasound technologist performs a vital role in our health care system. One of the first things that comes to mind when people think of ultrasound is prenatal care and this is in fact one of the most common uses for ultrasound, monitoring the health and determining the gender of an unborn child. Ultrasound technology can also be used to diagnose various problems with internal organs or problems with the vascular system such as blood clots. Ultrasound is also becoming more popular for a lot of people as an alternative to radiological procedures that expose people to radiation.
As an ultrasound technologist you will work closely with patients and you may perform six or seven examinations during a typical workday. Most ultrasound techs will work in a hospital setting and some will even travel from one location to another, working in multiple offices. You will need to be able to work well with patients and have good communication skills to help them understand exactly what it is you are going to do and how it will help them. You will also be working closely with doctors, helping them to diagnose various ailments. Of course you will need to become very familiar with all the various equipment that you will be using as well. An ultrasound technologist is a position that requires a certain skill set and to acquire those skills you need an education.
There are a number of ways you can acquire the training you need to pursue a career in this field. You can get a two year Associates degree or you can pursue a four year Bachelors degree from a university. There are also accredited vocational programs that will provide the training you need. Some people can even get the necessary training in the military. Universities and vocational schools will include courses in anatomy, physiology, instrumentation, patient care and medical ethics.
Although there are no state licensing requirements to become an ultrasound technologist most employers would prefer to hire someone with credentials. You can become certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography by successfully passing a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer exam. You may even become credentialed in a more specialized area of sonography such as the abdomen, the breast, the vascular system etc. Some people also choose to pursue credentials in multiple specialties.
If you specialized in obstetric or gynecological sonography a large part of your job would be examining pregnant women to monitor the health of the fetus, the baby’s growth and overall well-being. As an abdominal sonographer you would be examining patients to locate problems in the abdominal cavity. You would help doctors diagnose issues with the gall bladder, kidneys, liver, spleen and other internal organs. As a breast sonographer you would be performing mammograms to assist in the early detection of breast cancer. You might also assist in the biopsy of breast tissue.
As stated earlier an ultrasound technologist is a very important part of our health care system and it is a position that is in demand. It appears that these positions will be in demand for the foreseeable future and it is an excellent career path that offers excellent pay, job security and the chance to help people every day.