A career as an ultrasound technician requires in depth knowledge of the human body, problem solving skills and the desire to work with people. Aside from direct patient contact, technicians work with a variety of health care professionals to ensure patients receive the best medical care possible.
Ultrasound technicians may work in hospitals, diagnostic laboratories and physician offices. While ultrasounds are commonly used for pregnancy and pre-natal examinations, ultrasounds are also a valuable and crucial diagnostic tool in areas of medicine such as Vascular Technology and Neurosonology.
An Ultrasound Technician’s Equipment
Technicians use specialized diagnostic sonography equipment to take pictures that are created by using sound waves. While this may seem like a simple process, it requires incredible skill and knowledge. Physicians request ultrasounds to help them evaluate a patient’s condition and to assist them in determining a course of action. Inaccurate information can prevent a patient from receiving the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. A technician must be highly skilled and trained in the art of ultrasound technology to obtain an image that can provide important life saving information.
The equipment that ultrasound techs use is very complex and requires skill and extensive training to use properly. A transducer is placed on the specific area of the human body to obtain an image of specific structures. (For example : a pancreas) The transducer can receive and emit sound. The transducer produces a series of high frequency waves of sound that bounce off internal structures. The returning sound waves are transmitted to a computer, which in turn analyzes the returning sound waves to create the ultrasound image. Once the technician is satisfied with the image, the information is passed on to the patient’s physician.
Getting the actual sonographic image is not as simple as taking a photograph. The ultrasound technician must know where to place the transducer to get the best images of the specific area of the patient’s body or organs. The technician must also know how to use physical dynamics of positioning the patient to obtain the images that will provide the best and most pertinent information to the patient’s physician. In many cases, this can be a difficult and challenging task especially if the patient is obese, or has a condition that prevents the person from being moved. For example, oftentimes someone may not be able to be positioned on a certain side of their body due to a cast or serious injury.
One of the most challenging places an ultrasound technician may work is a hospital. A technician must always prepare for possible emergencies or high case load. Day to day variance in patient situations can also be very exciting, but also difficult as you rarely would have the same types of patients each day. One day an athlete might come in with a sports injury, another person might need vascular analysis, and another still, might be experiencing sharp pains that are yet undiagnosed.
Examining a sample day in the life of a ultrasound technician will hopefully help you recognize the skills, schooling, and experience needed to embark in this rewarding career.
Here is What a Typical Day Might Look Like as an Ultrasound Technician
At the beginning of every shift, technicians must discuss current cases with the nursing staff and ultrasound staff. After carefully examining the medical charts of each patient, the technician must then complete a routine check of the ultrasound equipment. At the beginning of each shift, the technician must document the physical condition of the equipment and run a series of quality control checks. Each quality control check must be documented accurately. The technician or an ultrasound technician assistant makes sure he or she has all the supplies necessary to perform his or her duties.
Once the equipment is prepared, the sonographer is ready to visit the first patient of the day. Lets say that the patient is suffering with thyroid issues and the cause has not been determined. The doctor has requested an image of the thyroid to determine if the thyroid is enlarged. The doctor suspects the patient may have thyroid cancer. The patient is anxious and frightened of the possibilities. While it is your job to get a detailed image, it is also your job to help the patient get through the procedure. Before beginning the procedure, you take a few minutes to chat with the patient. Once the patient begins to relax, you can begin the procedure to carefully obtain a valuable image that may help the doctor to diagnose the thyroid condition.
Before you leave the examination room, you receive a call to report to the emergency room STAT. A pregnant woman is in the emergency room experiencing severe abdominal pain. In balancing your existing responsibility, you must also document the thyroid patient’s medical record and ensure the images from the ultrasound you have just taken are immediately sent to the patient’s doctor.
When you get to the emergency room to perform an ultrasound on the pregnant woman, you are handed the doctor’s written request and the medical chart. The patient is in pain and concerned about the life of her baby. You quickly calm the patient and explain each step as you attempt to get a clear image of the unborn baby. The doctor’s concern that the baby is in danger increases your desire to act quickly and obtain an image that may save the baby’s life. While this is a moment of extreme high pressure and stress, you are confident and know you are highly skilled. You immediately print paper the images to for the doctor to examine.
The Rest of Your Day:
You do not have time to wait in the emergency room to find out if the patient and her baby will be fine. As you hear your name over the hospital PA system, you rush to the nearest phone. You call your supervisor and he needs you to help another technician who is experiencing technical difficulties with her equipment. As you proceed to the fourth floor to help your coworker, you hear your name paged again. You reach the fourth floor to find a message at the desk that indicates you have two more patients that are waiting for ultrasounds.
While ultrasound technicians may not always know what happens to each patient, they know their jobs are an important part of the health care delivery system. Doctors rely on skilled ultrasound technicians to obtain the necessary images that may help save a patient’s life or determine a diagnosis. In this rewarding career, you know that your skill and training is a valuable part of a medical team.
Each day brings new challenges, but it will also brings a rewarding feeling knowing you have made a difference in a patient’s life.
What You’ll Learn on your Way to Becoming an Ultrasound Tech
While enrolled in an ultrasound technologist college program, a student will learn by hands on experience with the ultrasound equipment, learn how to operate and maintain said equipment and complete classes on the following studies:
- Medical Terminology
- Patient positioning
- Proper patient protocol
- Equipment maintenance
- Safety regulations
- Anatomy and Biology
- Abdominal Sonography
- Gynecological Sonography
- Sonography physics
Students will also need to learn how to properly interact with patients, be educated on how to easily explain the procedure to patients and be able to answer any questions a patient might have. The technician will also work closely with physicians and will need to carefully follow any delegated instructions.
These classes will also help prepare students for the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography exam that can be taken once the initial courses have been completed. Ultrasound technologists are not required by the state to become certified by the ARDM, but students will be enabled to find easier employment with certification completion.
There are several specialties for you to choose from, such as:
- ophthalmologic sonography
- abdominal sonography
- obstetric and gynecologic sonography
Opathalmologic sonography deals with the eyes, giving an accurate eye measurement and also allowing for prosthetic lens placement and can also help to detect irregular blood vessels in the eyes or tumors. Abdominal sonography deals with the pancreas, spleen, gallbladder, kidneys and liver. Neursonography involves taking diagnostic images of the brain as well as the nervous system. A fetus’s brain can also be scanned to look for abnormalities or other health issues. Neurosonographers use different frequencies in order to examine the brain. Obstetric and gynecologic sonography is one of the most common types of sonography and deals with the female reproductive system and echocardiography and vascular technology. This type of sonography is used to take images of fetuses still in the womb, in order to insure the health of the infant as well as to determine the sex.
You may have asked yourself “how much does ultrasound technician school cost?” Typically, the cost of education for this career is 75$-500$ per credit. If attending a four year sonographer school, the tuition will be much more costly, than if you were to attend a community college. At a two year sonographer college the annual tuition can run 3,000$ if attending a two year sonographer school the tuition can cost around half the price of a four year school. Some four year colleges offer sonographer programs with a total cost of 37,000$ for the whole program, including materials. If you choose to attend a vocational school, always research the school to find an accredited one, where credits are transferable. Also, some vocational schools that offer classes can be more expensive than the same courses offered by a community college. When choosing a sonography college, also look into their success rate with graduates that have completed their program.
There are also some programs available for online ultrasound technician schools. These online courses are convenient for those students who also work or have other commitments. While online courses can help you towards your goal of becoming a tech, you will also need to spend a certain amount of time in the classroom in order to complete the program. The classroom time is devoted to the hands-on aspect of learning how to operate and maintain sonographer equipment. Some of the top accredited online colleges that offer ultrasound tech programs are: University of Phoenix, Argosy University, American intercontinental University and Kaplan University. These online programs costs are similar to those of vocational schools and will vary depending on the school and whether or not these schools offer financial aid.
Some vocational schools, such as ITT Tech offer their students career counseling and job placement opportunities after graduation.
Most ultrasound schools will offer financial aid to those low income students that qualify.
Some of the top schools for this field, based on the amount of students enrolled in ultrasound technician programs are:
- Miami Dade College
- Houston Community College
- Northern Virginia Community College
- Lone Star College system
- Austin Community College
- Valencia community College
- Broward College
- University of Iowa
- Nova Southeastern College
- Tidewater Community College
- Florida Community College, Jacksonville
- El Paso Community College
- College of DuPage
- Palm Beach Community College
- George Washington University
- Oakland Community College
- Central New Mexico Community College
- Orange Coast College
- Montgomery College
Where you can make the most annual salary as an ultrasound technologist?
After obtaining an associate’s degree a graduate can find employment in various medical settings, such as:
- Family practices
- Medical imaging centers
- Medical clinics
- And research labs
- Veterinarian offices
The salary rate for an ultrasound tech will be based on experience as well as where you live as the salary will fluctuate from state to state. States such as New York or California, where the cost of living is higher, will have the higher paying sonographer salary. The median annual salary for a sonographer is 64,000. The projected growth rate for this particular field is 44% between the years of 2010-2020, which is much faster than average for all occupations.
The environment in which you work will also play a part in how much you will earn. Places such as hospitals or diagnostic imaging centers will offer a higher annual salary than that of a small private practice of medical clinic. Ultrasound technologists that have several years of experience in the field will also be more likely to earn top salary potential.
Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs in Maine
Saint Joseph’s Rehabilitation and Residence is seeking to employ qualified, dedicated and compassionate C.N.A. candidates for full-time and part-time work, for the evening (3P-11:30P) shift. As a C.N.A. you will be responsible for providing routine nursing care in accordance with established policies and procedures under the supervision of a licensed Nurse. Responsibilities include but are not limited to; assisting residents with activities of daily living (feeding, bathing, transferring, etc.), obtaining vital signs, charting and other duties as assigned. The 121 bed facility includes Skilled Rehab care, Long Term care and Alzheimer’s and Dementia care. Candidates must be certified through the state of Maine C.N.A. registry and previous experience is preferred.
Saint Joseph’s is a newly acquired member of Covenant Health Systems and also recently welcomed Maine Health to our organization who will be working closely with DCS, Bonnie Smith and the entire Clinical team.
Employee will be eligible for a $1,500 sign on bonus after successful completion of one year’s employment. If you are looking for a new opportunity that places you with a dedicated and hard-working team, please send your resume to [email protected] or call (207) 797-0600 for more information. St. Josephs’ Rehabilitation and Residence is an Equal Opportunity Employer.