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.
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 for Sonographers
At the beginning of a session, ultrasound technicians usually explain the procedure to the patient as well as programming and adjusting 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.
Responsibilities of an Ultrasound Technician
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonographers in most states are not required to get a license to practice (www.bls.gov). The Society for Vascular Ultrasound (www.svunet.org) reported in 2009 that the New Mexico and Oregon legislatures were considering enacting licensure requirements for ultrasound technicians. Some sonographers may find on-the-job training sufficient to master the use of sonographic scanners and become familiar with anatomy. According to the BLS, employers prefer sonographers who have formally studied anatomy, physics, physiology, patient care, ethics and instrumentation at a vocational or technical school, community college or university.
The BLS also reports that employers prefer ultrasound technicians who are registered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The ARDMS has begun to offer 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). In addition to the ARDMS registration, ultrasound technicians should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills because they interact with patients in explaining the procedure, positioning patients for the scan and, in some instances, explaining the results.
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