The advancements in the field of diagnostic imaging have definitely simplified the task of detection of medical conditions. Ultrasonography, also known as sonography, is one such non-invasive diagnostic imaging procedure that has been of great use to doctors. This imaging procedure involves the use of a special medical equipment called an ultrasound machine. An ultrasound scan is performed by directing non-ionizing high frequency sound waves on the patient's body using a transducer. The reflected echoes of the organs are received by the transducer and transmitted to a computer. This data is formatted into three-dimensional images of the organs, which are then seen on a video monitor. Though this imaging technique is widely used for analyzing the development of fetus during the stages of pregnancy, it is also used for viewing the condition of various internal organs. The task of analyzing this sonographic data is performed by a diagnostic medical sonographer, who is not only trained to handle the ultrasound machine, but also briefs the patient about the posture he/she should maintain during this procedure.
Though the nature of work will depend on the area of specialization, a sonographer certainly needs to possess all the skills needed for operating the ultrasound equipment. He/she may specialize in obstetric and gynecologic sonography, abdominal sonography, neurosonography, breast sonography, vascular sonography, cardiac sonography, or ophthalmologic sonography. In general, he/she must be able to make the patient understand the basics of the procedure and also provide instructions as to the posture that the patient needs to maintain for getting the best view of the internal organs during the test.
The job description also includes recording of the details of the patient's medical history that might be of relevance to the condition of the internal organ that is being viewed. Out of the images that appear on the video monitor, the images that provide any pathological findings are analyzed. These images are further examined by medical experts for formulating a proper diagnosis.
Besides maintaining a record of diagnostic findings, he/she is also entrusted with the task of maintaining the equipment. He/she should be able to evaluate the sonographic data and communicate the results to the doctors. He/she needs to assist the patient during the test and maintain a high standard of patient care. A proper hand-eye coordination and ability to notice any irregular variations on the screen are vital to this job.
If you wish to pursue this career, you will need to enroll yourself in a university that offers formal education or training in this field. You can enroll for a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor's degree. You can also enroll for a one-year program, but you might then get a vocational certificate on the completion of the program. If you have proper qualifications and meet the eligibility criteria, you can also write an exam and get certified as a registered sonographer by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). So, if you have a degree from a reputed university, training, and prior work experience, you can expect to get a well-paying job.
Being a registered medical sonographer, who is well-versed in more than one area of specialization, will open the door of opportunities. You can easily get a salary that ranges anywhere between USD 40,000 to USD 70,000 per annum. The salary might also be influenced by the location of the hospital or medical facility you are working for. There is a constant need for medical research in today's world. Moreover, hospitals, private clinics, diagnostic imaging centers, public health facilities, and laboratories will always need people with a specialization in diagnostic imaging. With experience, you could also become eligible for the post of a chief technologist and might be entrusted with the task of overseeing sonography departments. Those who are inclined towards academic roles, can teach ultrasound imaging techniques in hospitals or educational institutes.
There's no dearth of opportunities for an aspiring medical sonographer. Besides being a financially rewarding career option, this is a job that will give you immense job satisfaction. Your knowledge on imaging techniques will help in detection of diseases and help doctors diagnose the suitable treatment option for patients.