Medical sonography, also called ultrasonography, is a diagnostic procedure which uses high frequency sound waves in order to produce an image of tissues, organs of blood flow found in the body. You might be more familiar with the common procedure called an ultrasound, used by physicians to view the growth and progress of a fetus as well as to determine the baby’s sex. A sonogram can be used to examine different parts of the body such as breasts, reproductive systems, the heart and abdomen.
What a Sonographer Does?
Currently the sonographer does not have certification that is mandated by the state, however, in order to advance in this profession you will need to obtain a degree in this field or complete a certificate program.
Additional certifications are available for such specialties as the abdomen, OB/GYN, breast, echocardiography, neurosonology, vascular technology and ophthalmology. Having a specialty in mammography can allow the sonographer to work in cancer research centers, labs or women’s health clinics. A specialty in vascular technology can allow the health care professional to work in surgery centers, hospitals or labs. These specialty areas can increase an annual salary significantly, depending on the area of specialty and the type of work environment.
The sonographer can work in a private practice, medical clinic, hospital, or imaging center. During a sonogram the professional will place a device called the transducer against a patient’s skin, in the area that requires a diagnostic image to be taken. The transducer will work like a microphone and loudspeaker, transmitting and receiving sound. The transducer will send high frequency sound waves into the body which will bounce off of internal structures. The sound is then analyzed by a computer in order to make an image of the structure on a monitor.
What are the Songraphy Requirements?
A sonographer will work closely with patients and physicians, completing some of the following duties: performing exams, providing written summaries of technical findings, recording a patient’s medical history and collaborating with physicians regarding patient care. Working so closely with patients the sonographer will need to take the proper safety precautions as they can be exposed to a patient’s blood or other bodily fluids.
The requirements for the sonographer will vary depending on each type of medical facility with the common minimum requirements being the sonographer must be able to lift a minimum of 50 pounds, push, pull, bend and stoop repeatedly, stand on their feet 90% of their shift, assist the patients on and off the examining table, have full mobility in both hands, wrists and shoulders and be able to effectively communicate with the ordering physician.
How can you Advance in this Field?
Working in this type of health care field can allow for certain advancements within a facility such as administration, research, application specialist, representative and technical advisor. Having a specialty area in this field will require additional education and certification exams, not to mention ten to twenty hours more of continued education each year.
The salary for the medical sonography field is competitive and will require a degree in order to reach the top annual income. The sonographer that has an associate’s degree, works an average amount of overtime or is on-call can make an annual income ranging from 58,000% to 62,000$. The common on-call rate will range from 38$ to 42$ an hour, which is an additional three to four dollars more than working a regular shift. The salary in this field will vary depending on the sonographer’s education level, area of specialty and number of years in the field.
The sonography programs offered vary in lengths of one to four years with the minimum requirements being a high school education or GED. For degree programs the student may not be eligible for enrollment unless they have their high school diploma and have a background in the health care field, math and science. A student will need to find a program that is accredited by the American Registry for Diagnostic Sonography in order to have their credentials recognized. Listings for accredited programs can be found through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program, also known as the CAAHEP. You can take a look at the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program’s website at www.caahep.org, where you can find more information on each individual program available.