If you love helping people and you are interested in a career in diagnostic imagery, or ultrasound technology, sonography may be a great career path for you. As a diagnostic tool, sonography is safe, non-invasive, and low-risk for patients and sonographers as there is no radiation exposure. Like other advanced care roles, a diagnostic medical sonographer is essential to patient care. While most people think of OB/GYN and babies when they hear the word ultrasound, there’s a wide range of specialties within the field. Learn more about becoming a sonographer, how you can make a difference in patients’ lives, and whether this is the right career choice for you.
What Does an Ultrasound Tech Do?
You may be asking what does a diagnostic medical sonographer do? Diagnostic medical sonographers, also known as ultrasound technicians, help doctors and other health care professionals assess and identify a patient’s medical conditions. These professionals use imaging equipment that produces high-frequency waves to record images or conduct tests on many parts of the body.
To understand a diagnostic medical sonographer jobs’ daily responsibilities, it is essential you know the difference between an ultrasound and a sonogram. While most use the terms interchangeably when discussing sonography, they are different. Ultrasound refers to the tool used to take a sonogram (or picture). Here is an overview of the daily duties of an ultrasound tech:1
- Explain ultrasound diagnostic imaging to patients and record their medical history.
- Follow approved procedures to ensure that diagnostic equipment is working properly.
- Operate equipment under authorized diagnostic image practices and approaches.
- Review images for clarity, coverage, and suitability to detect the presence or absence of a presumed medical condition.
- Distinguish between normal and abnormal anatomy to prepare a summary of your diagnostic findings for the attending physician.
- Record findings and file patients’ records per prescribed procedures.
Sonography professionals may work with doctors and surgeons before, during, and after these day-to-day procedures.
Different Types of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Diagnostic medical sonographers are professionals who can work in multiple specialties. Depending on your passion or career path, you may want to specialize in a particular type of sonography. For example, those interested in cardiology may wish to consider a cardiac sonographer role or if you prefer a diagnostic challenge, consider becoming a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. There is a wide variety of diagnostic medical sonographer and ultrasound tech jobs in the field because there are a large number of titles denoting specialist roles, such as:2
- Cardiac Sonographer
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Medical Sonographer
- Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Staff Sonographer
- Ultrasound Tech
- Ultrasound Technician
- Ultrasound Technologist
Types of sonographers:1
- Abdominal sonographers — specialize in imaging abdominal cavities and other organs like the spleen, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, or kidneys.
- Breast sonographers — focus on imaging breast tissue in order to find cysts and tumors.
- Cardiac sonographers — sometimes called echocardiographers, specialize in imaging hearts, chambers, valves, and vessels.
- Musculoskeletal sonographers — specialize in imaging joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
- Pediatric sonographers — perform imaging of infants and children.
- Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers — analyze imaging for female reproductive organs and unborn babies.
- Vascular technologists or vascular sonographers — work with imaging to examine blood vessels, and measuring blood pressure and volume to detect blood clots.
While there is a significant number of designations within the field of sonography, these professionals’ tasks remain the same; to operate imaging equipment and conduct tests on organs and tissues in the human body. Depending on the title, your work environment and salary may vary.