Ultrasound Technologist

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Ultrasound Technologist


Most everyone is familiar with ultrasound pictures of fetuses as they develop throughout pregnancies. These "photographs", carried around in the wallets of proud parents to be, are actually taken using equipment that transmits high frequency sound pulses through the body, which produce images. This is a radiation-free way of getting clear, informative pictures of the insides of bodies.

Ultrasound technologists do more than just look at babies, however. Working alongside a team of doctors, nurses, other technologists, and receptionists, they can monitor pregnancies, assist in diagnosing heart, vascular, abdominal, pelvic and brain disorders, and assist in some medical procedures. They look for motion, shape, and the composition of blood, organs, and tissues. The technologists obtain the images that doctors use to make diagnoses about illness, fetal development, and ultimately help heal patients.

They use complex equipment to gather this information. They aim to get the most honest and accurate pictures, and then record and store the best images on prints, computer files, and film. They prepare a report for the physicians about the exams and the resulting images that were recorded. They are also responsible for maintaining the equipment, and ensuring the comfort of the patients throughout the exam.

Ultrasound is becoming more and more popular, as techniques advance and people start looking for alternatives to x-rays. Ultrasound images are safe, accurate, and useful, but not just anyone can be an ultrasound technologist. It is a career only for those who enjoy science as well as interacting on a daily basis with many different patients and their families, who are often nervous, frightened, and excited about the images the technologists produce.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Ultrasound technologists should be technologically minded, and enjoy doing precise tasks with clear rules and guidelines. They need to have a calm, sensitive demeanor, a gentle disposition, and a sense of humor. They are organized, efficient, and safety-conscious, with a desire to help people. Ultrasound technologists also need the stamina to stay on their feet for hours at a time. To succeed in this career ultrasound technologists need to work well with others, have good communication skills, and be respectful of other cultures and belief systems.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Operate ultrasound imaging equipment
  • Monitor examination by viewing images on video screen, make adjustments as required
  • Record and store suitable images
  • Care for patients throughout examinations to ensure patient safety and comfort
  • Prepare examination reports for physicians
  • Check ultrasound equipment to ensure proper operation, perform minor repairs as required
  • The typical day for an ultrasound technologist will involve a lot of working directly with patients. Some time is also spent examining images and preparing reports for physicians. Ultrasound technologists spend much of each day indoors. There is little opportunity to travel, although ultrasound technologists do get to meet and work with many people, from kids with broken arms to well-respected doctors.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Ultrasound technologists work in hospitals and health clinics. They work in offices, and in screening rooms. They work regular hours, but may be required to work some evenings or weekends, depending on the clinic. They work in small teams of doctors, technicians, assistants, and receptionists.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Ultrasound technologists can get involved in radiation therapies and x-ray technology, or can become nurses, doctors, and radiologists. They can also become sales representatives for the medical equipment they are familiar with, or become instructors, public educators, and advocates for health care.

  Educational Paths  
In order to work in their chosen field ultrasound technologists need to complete a college training program in diagnostic medical sonography, which includes in-class and on-the-job training. They are also required to pass a certification exam given by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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