Ultrasound technology (Diagnostic Medical Sonography, DMS) is one component of a larger radiological technology sub-specialty in allied health, and one that is growing rapidly for medical diagnosis.
What Does a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Do?
A diagnostic medical sonographer is a highly-skilled professional who uses specialized equipment to create images of structures inside the human body that are used by physicians to make a medical diagnosis. The process involves placing a small device called a transducer against the patient's skin near the body area to be imaged. The transducer works like a loudspeaker and microphone because it can transmit sound and receive sound. The transducer sends a stream of high frequency sound waves into the body that bounce off the structures inside. The transducer detects sound waves as they bounce off the internal structures. Different structures in the body reflect these sound waves differently. These sounds are analyzed by a computer to make an image of the structure(s) on a television screen or that can be recorded on videotape.
Sonographers have extensive, direct patient contact that may include performing some invasive procedures. They must be able to interact compassionately and effectively with people who range from healthy to critically ill. (http://www.sdms.org/career/career.asp)
The Professional Responsibilities Include, But Are Not Limited, To
- Obtaining, recording and reviewing an accurate patient history and supporting clinical data to facilitate optimum diagnostic results
- Performing diagnostic procedures and obtaining diagnostic images
- Analyzing technical information and recording it for interpretation by a physician
- Using independent judgment in recognizing the need to extend the scope of the procedure according to the diagnostic findings
- Providing an oral or written summary of the technical findings to the physician for medical diagnosis
- Providing quality patient care
- Collaborating with physicians and other members of the health care team
- Acting in a professional and ethical manner, demonstrating appropriate communication skills with patients and colleagues
- Provide patient education related to medical ultrasound and promote principles of good health
Sonographers must also be knowledgeable about and limit the risk from possible exposure to blood and body fluids. Many sonographers also assist in electronic and clerical scheduling, record keeping, and computerized image archiving. Sonographers may also have managerial or supervisory responsibilities. (http://www.sdms.org/career/career.asp)
What Are Some of the Technical Standards?
Sonographers and Vascular Technologists must be able to:
- Lift more than 50 pounds routinely
- Push and pull routinely
- Bend and stoop routinely
- Have full use of both hands, wrists and shoulders
- Distinguish audible sounds
- Adequately view sonograms, including color distinctions
- Work standing on their feet 80% of the time
- Interact compassionately and effectively with the sick or injured
- Assist patients on and off examining tables
- Communicate effectively with patients and other health care professionals
- Organize and accurately perform the individual steps in a sonographic procedure in the proper sequence. (http://www.sdms.org/career/career.asp)
What Are the Career Opportunities?
Sonography is a dynamic profession that has grown significantly over the past 20 years. With rapidly developing new technologies and increased use of diagnostic ultrasound procedures, growth is projected to continue in the future with employment opportunities for qualified sonographers in both urban and rural areas nationwide. Sonographers and vascular technologists can choose to work in clinics, hospitals, private practice physician offices, public health facilities, laboratories, and other medical settings performing examinations in their areas of specialization. Career advancement opportunities exist in education, administration, research, and in commercial companies as education/application specialists, sales representatives, technical advisors, etc. (http://www.sdms.org/career/career.asp)
The next DMS application will be available in Spring of 2015.