Ultrasound Technician Details Of Job And Steps To Become One
What is Ultrasound Technician and Ultrasound Technology – Introduction
Becoming an Ultrasound technician is a very good option for those who couldn’t finish or do their long years of medical studies.To become a certified ultrasound tech, it takes about 1-2 years and then to get the experience and get into a better hospital or medical facility, a few more years. The process is thus shorter. Ultrasound technicians handle the ultrasounds in medical settings. It is quite a high paying job. The ultrasound technologist work itself is not difficult, but it gets challenging and requires dynamism on the applicant’s part.Special sound wave equipment is used to produce images of internal body parts which are used for diagnosing the patient better. Apart from taking images, you will have to prepare the patients for the ultrasound, explain the procedures, maintain archives of the images, and keep a medical history of the patients.
Ultrasound Technician – What the Job Entails
After you become an ultrasound tech, you will be a huge part of the medical professional team. Your presence and work is highly essential to the entire medical clinic or hospital. You will be the one who operates the transducer, which is the imaging equipment to produce images of internal organs of the body. This image, if unclear, will have to either be retaken by you or repaired. These are the images which will be used to diagnose the patient’s health condition. Of all the ultrasound tech jobs, this is very basic one.
One of the most commonly known uses of an ultrasound is to take images of a developing foetus in a pregnant woman. The sex of the baby, how much he has grown and whether he is growing well etc can be known by an ultrasound and you as the ultrasound technologist will be performing this procedure. By an ultrasound, the other images that are taken are- of the gallbladder, kidney, pancreas, liver etc.
Commonly, the ultrasound equipment is used on the patients’ abdominal area, obstetrics and of course for female reproductive health. Echo cardiology, which is for heart related problems and neurosonology, which is brain and spinal cord related, are also checked out by an ultrasound. Also, Ophthalmology, that is for the patient’s eyes and correlating muscles, is also done by an ultrasound.
You will have to apply a gel on the patient’s skin, which is used to produce images on the screen. The transmission is done via sound waves. Your job as an ultrasound tech will also be to do keep records of the patients’ history as well as the images taken recently. Preparing and guiding the patient through the entire process is also a part of your job profile. You will also be responsible for managing and maintaining the equipment you have to use.
Educational Requirements to be an Ultrasound Technician
A two years Associate’s degree from an accredited school is required for becoming an Ultrasound technician. They should attend ultrasound technician schools and gain practical knowledge as well. The school must be accredited by Commission of Allied Health Education programs. The ultrasound technician programs includes practical orientation and offer plenty of practice.
The prerequisites for getting into this 2 year program are a high school diploma and a strong background in any healthcare related subjects. 4 year degrees are also available for diagnostic ultrasound tech aspirants. The areas of study in these ultrasound tech training programs will be anatomy, physiology, all the medical terminology and of course, the uses and operations of the equipment you will be using.
All the training will also be practised in laboratories. Training in patient relations and communication will also be taught. This is needed because you will be working directly with the patient and you should know how to handle situation wherein the patient is nervous or wants to know more about the procedure etc. You will also have to know various physicians’ offices which you can refer the patient to. You will also be needed to train the new ultrasound technicians who join the medical staff every year or so. The ultrasound technician programs have nowadays a practical approach as well.
Even though you are not required to get a license, it’s recommended that you become a registered diagnostic medical sonographer by getting into the program, offered by the American registry for Diagnostic medical Sonography. By getting this certification (keep in mind that this is not required for employment compulsorily or by the law), you have an upper hand over the other applicants. This way you will be the more desirable candidate for any kind of medical facility. If you have finished some ultrasound technician courses, all the better. The US bureau of Labour and Statistics did mention that there are certain states that require certification compulsorily, so it is a good idea to get one. You can face some ultrasound technician exams and get good scores to prove your mettle.
Already registered nurses, who have built up quite an experience if interested in the ultrasound tech course, can take up a 1 year certification course to better their chances to become one and earn more income. Thus, this job provides a lot of opportunities to a lot of people. A selection of ultrasound technician classes can bolster your skills. There are certain states which have medical facilities and hospitals which train those who want to become an ultrasound technician while they are on the job! After all, doing it practically is the best way to learn.
Job Prospects for Ultrasound Technicians
It is not just hospitals where you can get the job. Once you have graduated ultrasound tech schools, you can work in offices, clinics, or at hospitals or other clinics on call. You will have to work about 8 hours a day as an ultrasound technician. If you want extra income, you can work at one place and be called for work “on call” in other clinics. To make a successful and lucrative ultrasound technician career is now possible.
The neonatal Intensive care Unit where in premature infants are checked also is handled by you. Those diagnostic medical sonographers who work at the NICU are called neurosonographers. You will have to scan foetus’ brain and come to know of any brain disease. Congenital defects, Intracranial haemorrhage can be also be concluded with the help of an ultrasound on infants. Sickle cell anaemia can also be checked out by you and you will be able to tell if there are any chances of a stroke even. Ultrasound technician resume should do your skills and abilities justice. Mention your achievements on the job and appear knowledgeable with current trends. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers Education prepares you for these challenges.
Most of the jobs of an ultrasound technicians are offered to you while you are still in the sonographer certifying school. It also pays to have contacts with doctors and physicians in hospitals and clinics so you can get the job via personal recommendation. Newspaper advertisements and the internet also have a plethora of ultrasound technician jobs.
Ultrasound Technician- Salary Description
There is an increase in demand as well as supply for ultrasound technologist jobs, and this is because there is need for them and the salary is quite high. The average salary is about $61,980. In 2010, the mean annual salary was $64,900. Of course, much more can be gotten with different clinics and hospitals and when you have more responsibilities. Diagnostic medical sonographer salary depends on a host of factors. How long you have worked in the field as well as whether you own a certificate also matters. Someone who has an ultrasound technician degree can definitely demand higher pay. If he also has sonography certification it helps him advance further.
Ultrasound Technician Salary By State 2012
If you are an ultrasound tech working in a government facility you will be paid most. Simply put, the ultrasound tech salary is quite competitive. The number of ultrasound technicians employed by hospitals and physicians are more than medical and diagnostic laboratories. Outpatient care centres are also high paying areas for you. You can get paid as much as $73,000 at companies which offer employment services, at universities and at outpatient care centres.
Ultrasound Technician – The Job Profile
As mentioned before you will be working with an instrument called a “transducer”. By adding that gel onto the patient’s body, you will be using special equipment that uses high frequency sound waves into that area. Thus, the equipment collects the reflected echoes from the body and captures them as images. These images are used by you as an Ultrasound technician and the physician for diagnosis. The sound waves which penetrate into the body are harmless.
Details of the Job
- You will have to explain the procedure to the patient before you perform it. Also, you must have his/her history in front of you while performing the procedure. All, if any abnormalities are there in the checked part of the body will be displayed on the screen for further analysis.
- You will also have to use oscilloscopes for collecting ultrasound images. Video recorders and cameras also will have to be handled by you. The ultrasound images if blurry will have to be retaken by you. The images should be clear enough to identify the abnormalities. You have to apply your knowledge and see if the range of the test has to be extended. More tests have to be taken if the diagnosis was not possible with the first try. Keep in mind that you have to keep the images in an archive ready for evaluation for the physicians. Your job also includes entering the billing details to the computerized system
- If any technician needs help, you will have to be there. Your expertise might also be needed for biopsy procedures and certain surgical procedures. You will also be needed to know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation in case of emergencies.
- Apart from these jobs you also have to make sure the ultrasound room is spic and span.
- You have to keep a tab on the supplies and maintain a certain number so that you are not out of supplies when you most need them. Monthly records and charts must be maintained by you of all the patients so that you can get to them in one click.
- You will have to keep a record of appointments as well. Every part of the sonography department will be under your jurisdiction.
- With arrival of new equipment or devices, you will be in charge of evaluating them and explaining the operations and how it works to the other members of the department. You have to improve the performance of the department. If you perform well enough and have better experience than others, you might be tagged as the leader and in charge of the other Ultrasound technicians.
A stepwise explanation of how the images are used for diagnosing:
Once you as an ultrasound tech, take the images using the advanced ultrasound equipment, the ultrasound images will be sent by you to the concerned radiologist. He diagnoses the images. He will then send the message to you when the diagnosis has been done, and you will inform the patient as to when he can collect his reports.
The Ultrasound Procedure
The entire scanning process of an ultrasound takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Some scans may also take a mere 15 minutes. More than 40-120 images are taken by the ultrasound equipment per day. Of course, with each department come a different number of images. You have to make sure the quality of images is good. The machine is judged by the quality of the images after all. The good pictures are to be sent to the radiologist after that. He will be the one who produces the report with the concluded analysis. If hypothesis of the diagnosis is inconclusive, the radiologists may ask for further images.
When you are evaluating the images, you will have to see if the organs are in their normal shape and size. Also, the colour of the organs is also checked against a set gray colour.
The Different fields an Ultrasound Technician can be a part of:
- Neonatal Brain,
- Carotid arteries,
You will also have to handle soft tissue masses of the body, cysts etc. A hysterosonogram is also done by you. This involves water being injected into the uterus through the cervix to have a look into the uterus lining. Your fallopian tubes can be looked at as well. Here, a radiologist or a gynaecologist takes a look at the images and gives the report. The test can be performed by an ultrasound either via the vagina or through the abdomen. The carotid arteries are scanned for plaques, leg veins for clots, abdomen for gallstones etc.
Basically, the areas where the patient complains of will be checked. Special images will be taken of those areas which are to be focused on.
This is the life of an ultrasound technologist. You should know all this and more before you step into the journey of becoming one.