CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 04, 2014
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How to Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Is it a girl or a boy? Working as a diagnostic medical sonographer, you are likely to be the one responding to this question.  You do this by using ultrasound technology to view and understand images with sound waves for the treatment and diagnosis of medical problems. 

If you like offering personal care to various individuals whether healthy or critically ill, using high-tech equipment then this could be the right career path for you.

What Do Diagnostic Medical Sonographers Do?

It is the duty of the diagnostic medical sonographer to carry out precise ultrasound tests on a distinct part of the body as directed by the physician. This professional then focuses high-frequency sound waves on the required area on the victim’s body with the help of ultrasound equipment to establish a fine image of the area for diagnostic and analysis reasons. Other duties performed by the diagnostic medical sonographer include but are not limited to:

  • Accessing and recording precise patient history
  • Carrying out diagnostic processes and acquiring diagnostic images
  • Providing the physician with a written or oral summary of the technical findings for medical diagnosis and quality patient care
  • Evaluating technical information
  • Offering quality patient care
  • Collaborating with doctors and other healthcare providers
  • Utilizing independent judgment in determining the need to prolong the scope of the process based on the diagnostic findings

Salary

Experts in diagnostic medical sonography earn a median annual wage of $65,860. This relates closely to the salary of registered nurses and is slightly above that of radiologic technologists, physical therapy assistants and medical equipment repairers. Here is the diagnostic medical sonographer’s salary based on different locations.

Place

Annual Wages

San Jose, California

$107,150

San Francisco

$103,430

Oakland, California

$102,850

Santa Rosa, California

$95,810

Norwich, Connecticut

$95,420

Minnesota

$60,000

New York

$70,000

Phoenix

$60,000

SOURCE: USNEWS


What Qualifications are Needed?

Working as a diagnostic medical sonographer requires you to provide patient services in a wide range of medical settings. For instance, your services might be required on an emergency basis hence you are bound to occasionally work overnight, holidays, weekends and shifts. The nature of this job demands that you to possess the following qualities:

  • Visual skills for adequate differentiation between faint shades gray
  • Auditory skills to communicate with patients and other healthcare providers and to distinguish the Doppler signal’s audible sounds.
  • Sufficient written and oral skills in English
  • Social perceptiveness to enable him understand others’ reactions
  • Time management hence manage own time and others’
  • Service orientation, always eager to serve others
  • Ability to operate and control relevant equipment
  • Active learning to learn about the implications of emergent information for proper problem solving
  • Ability to perform quality control analysis
  • Physical ability to stand up to 8 hours during an 8 hour shift
  • Manual dexterity to operate and manipulate all diagnostic sonography apparatus.

Diagnostic medical sonography is a visualization modality that works alongside other visualization modalities such as MRI, x-ray, CT scans as well as nuclear medicine.

Professional Training

Sonographers obtain their basic training in the course of their educational program. They are able to get exposure to various technologies and decipher images in numerous specialties. Individuals who aspire to be diagnostic medical sonographers have a wide variety of educational routes to choose from.

  • A one-year certificate specifically designed for professionals with experience in healthcare.
  • Taking a Diploma in Medical Sonography is also an option. This is longer than a certificate, but shorter than a degree and can be studied by those without any experience in healthcare.
  • Alternatively, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree specially designed for those without healthcare experience.

Sonographers must have licenses in some states. However, certification is incorporated in some educational programs. Certification can also be obtained from professional associations like ARDMS.

Career Prospects

According to BLS, employment opportunities for diagnostic medical sonographers is projected to increase 46% from 2012-2022. Other related occupations such as cardiovascular technologists and technicians are bound to grow 30% from 2012-2022.

Even though hospitals are the main Diagnostic medical sonographer employers, their employment is projected to increase in physicians’ offices as well as in diagnostic and medical laboratories. Employment in these settings is bound to increase owing to the shift toward outpatient care anytime it is possible.

Working in this position requires you to possess a high level of precision, dedication and a passion for healthcare. However, if you feel that you have the necessary traits as well as a knack for high tech equipment then why not make this your career.

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