Ultrasound technology is used in medical diagnostic testing for a variety of diseases, disorders or illnesses. Ultrasound technologists and technicians are in great demand, as the job requires high levels of technical skills and expertise in several sub-specialty disciplines. Read on to find out how you can become an ultrasound technologist.
Ultrasonography or sonography, as this discipline is also known, involves the use of sound waves to create images of internal organs, as opposed to radiology which uses radio waves. Sonograph machines are used extensively in the OB-GYN segment, but have been adapted to handle diagnostic testing for other medical disciplines as well. These include cardiology, abdominal medicine, neurology, vascular systems, cancer detection, etc.
Job description - Here is an explanation of what an ultrasound tech does on the job.
- Use ultrasound machines equipment to direct high-frequency sound waves on the area to be diagnosed, map the returned/reflected echoes and create still or moving images for scrutiny by a doctor.
- Review patient history and interact with them to find out the best way to conduct the ultrasound examination.
- Assist physicians and other medical professionals in interpreting sonographs.
- Prepare and maintain records relating to patients, regular maintenance/repair/replacement of ultrasound machines, contribute inputs for equipment purchase.
Ultrasound Education, training and certification - Learn what ultrasound tech training is needed.
- Secondary education: High school diploma or GED equivalent with a focus on science subjects and math.
- Post-secondary education: A two-year associate or four-year bachelor’s degree in ultrasound technology/diagnostic testing. Usually, an associate’s degree will suffice to work as an ultrasound technologist. Ensure that the institution/hospital facility where you study for your degree has ultrasound tech classes and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Certification and licensing: Complete the requirements to be certified as an ultrasound technologist, administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or by specialist certifying institutions such as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) for vascular and breast sonography, or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) for cardiac technicians. The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) is a professional body dedicated to the use of ultrasound technology in medicine and provides accreditation and resources to ultrasound professionals. Details on the same can be obtained from aium.org. At the current time, there are no federal or state board licensing requirements to become an ultrasound technologist.
- Alternative routes: If you are already working as a professional in any health/medical segment, opportunities to switch over to ultrasound technologist jobs are available. You will be required to complete a 1-2 year program in this field.
- Continuing education: Ultrasound technologists are required to comply with re-certification requirements by undertaking continuing education courses as per prescribed duration and frequency.
Now you know how to get ultrasound jobs. A thorough understanding of these guidelines will help you in becoming an ultrasound technologist and provide the opportunity to work with cutting-edge medical technology and contribute to patient welfare.