What exactly does a diagnostic medical sonographer do all day long?
A diagnostic medical sonographer, also known as a sonographer, is a medical professional who uses imaging equipment and soundwaves to create images of various parts of the body, known as ultrasounds, for diagnosis and treatment. They have received specialized training in the acquisition and analysis of sonographic images. These images are used to assist doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of medical conditions.
Because ultrasound is a non-invasive method of visualizing internal organs, it is frequently used as the first imaging test when a disease is discovered or suspected. In this context, diagnostic medical sonographers play an important role in the administration and interpretation of initial imaging tests that may help narrow down a patient's diagnosis and expedite the delivery of necessary medical care to the patient.
The scope of the practice
The following are examples of typical job duties, roles, and responsibilities for a diagnostic medical sonographer:
- Operation of imaging equipment, as well as examination of images to ensure that they are of high quality and useful for diagnosis
- Differentiating between normal and abnormal imaging results, communicating a summary of the results to physicians or other health-care professionals, and alerting physicians to urgent problems are all responsibilities of radiologists.
- Prepare patients for procedures and keep them informed throughout the ultrasound examination
- Patient medical history review, recording imaging results in patient records, and coordinating care with various departments within the hospital or clinic are all examples of what this position entails.
Doctors, nurses, and patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly, collaborate with diagnostic medical sonographers in their work. Magnetic resonance imaging technologists and radiation technologists, both of whom assist with the performance and interpretation of MRI scans and X-rays, respectively, play similar roles in the diagnostic imaging field.
Diagnostic medical sonographers can specialize in a wide range of fields depending on their training. A vascular technologist, for example, is someone who creates images of blood vessels. Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers are someone who specializes in imaging the female reproductive system. Other specialized sonographers may specialize in imaging the abdomen, the musculoskeletal system, or blood vessels, among other areas of expertise. An echocardiographer is a sonographer who specializes in imaging the heart. They provide visualizations of patients' heart valves and cardiac arteries, and they are also known as cardiac sonographers. However, while some employers may prefer highly specialized sonographers, many general sonographer positions will require imaging experience in a number of different fields.
In the workplace, there is an atmosphere of respect and consideration for others.
When working in a hospital or clinic, diagnostic medical sonographers are frequently found performing ultrasound procedures at the bedside of patients, but they may also be found working with imaging machines in a dedicated room within the facility. Depending on their employer, most diagnostic medical sonographers work full-time, though some may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays in addition to their regular hours. The position frequently requires you to be on your feet for the majority of the workday.
While diagnostic medical sonographers are most often found in hospitals, they can also find work in doctor's offices, medical and diagnostic labs, and other places of employment. Diagnostic medical sonographers perform similar tasks whether they work in hospitals, clinics, or specialized laboratories. If they work for a large hospital or health system, however, they may be exposed to a wider range of disease states or may be able to specialize in certain areas.
Becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer is a rewarding career.
Medical diagnostic sonographers who are successful in their careers have a strong understanding of anatomy and a keen eye for subtle changes in imaging results. They also have a passion for anatomy, are detail-oriented, and pay close attention to imaging protocols. It is necessary to have good interpersonal skills when working with a variety of patient populations and when communicating imaging results to other health care professionals. Working as a medical diagnostic sonographer may be an excellent choice for those who want to gain highly technical skills while also interacting with others on a daily basis. The position requires a combination of focused medical knowledge, hand-eye coordination, and a strong desire to see that patients receive the medical treatment they require.
Requirements for postsecondary education
There are a variety of educational paths that one can take to become a diagnostic medical sonographer. Following high school, the typical path includes the following steps:
- Obtaining an associate or bachelor's degree, with coursework in the sciences and anatomy, is a good starting point for this career.
- Obtaining a certificate in diagnostic medical sonography after completing the program. Diagnostic medical sonography certificate programs include both educational courses that are specific to diagnostic medical sonography training and clinical experiences. Certificate programs are offered through a variety of institutions, including colleges, universities, and teaching hospitals.
Obtaining certification as a diagnostic medical sonographer is essential.
In addition, many employers require candidates to have completed a professional sonography certification as well as basic life support training, or to complete certification within a short period of time after being hired, before being considered. Certification for sonographers is available from a number of organizations, including the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), Cardiovascular Credentialing International, and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Diagnostic medical sonographers who have received advanced certifications will typically practice under the title of registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS), although some may choose to practice under the title of certified diagnostic medical sonographer (CDMS).
A diagnostic medical sonographer's job prospects are favorable.
With an aging population, there will be an increased demand for medical conditions to be diagnosed using affordable imaging technology. In order to provide an alternative to radiation imaging techniques, sonographers will be required. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that this profession will grow at a rate significantly faster than the national average over the next decade. In the United States, the average salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer is $75,900, with the amount earned depending on experience, certification, and geographic location.
Some sonographers may advance to supervisory positions or become advanced sonographers as a result of additional training and educational opportunities. Some sonographers will be able to advance their careers by earning an advanced degree and working as educators or researchers.