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Ultrasound Technician Job Description, Duties and Responsibilities

Ultrasound technicians use machines that direct sound waves into the human body to create echo-mapped pictures of internal organs. Many specializations are available, and there are many viable paths for prospective ultrasound techs to use to gain the knowledge they need to practice.

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Ultrasound Technician Job Description

Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, operate machines called sonographic scanners that create images of patients' internal organs. Sonographic scanners use a hand-held scanning unit to direct sound waves into an area, then translate the echoes made by the bouncing sound waves to create images that appear on a screen.

Duties

At the beginning of a session, ultrasound technicians usually explain the procedure to the patient as well as program and adjust the scanner for the specific procedure. Unless the sonographer is making a video recording of the ultrasound images, he or she decides which still images, called sonograms, to capture and show to the physician for diagnostic purposes. Although the obstetric and gynecologic ultrasound associated with developing fetuses is the most commonly known procedure in the field, the ultrasound technician may also work as a specialist in neurological (brain), breast, heart or abdominal sonography.

Education and Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonographers need formal training, typically an associate's or bachelor's degree in sonography though some certificate programs are also available (www.bls.gov). These programs cover anatomy, physics, physiology, patient care, ethics and instrumentation.

The BLS also reports that employers prefer ultrasound technicians who have earned industry certification from an organization such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). ARDMS offers registration based on passing exams on physical principles and instrumentation. Ultrasound technicians who pass the ARDMS exam receive the title of Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS).

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