Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Diagnostic medical sonographers operate sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging and x ray technology to take internal pictures of the body cavity. Images are used by doctors to diagnose health problems. Sonography technology transmits sound waves into an individual’s body, which relays images to computer screens via reflected echoes.

Sonographers will first explain the procedure to the patient and record any conditional relevant medical history. They will then perform the scan, using a transducer, which transmits sound waves in a cone-shaped or rectangle-shaped beam. Analyzing a screen during the scan, sonographers look for subtle visual clues that show unhealthy areas of the body. Sonographers then determine if the images are satisfactory for diagnostic purposes and select which images to store and submit to the attending physician. While sonographers do not function as doctors they do take measurements, calculate values, and analyze the results in preliminary findings that they will then present to the physician for further analysis.

Diagnostic medical sonographers may specialize in following areas:

  • obstetric and gynecologic sonography (images of the female reproductive system)
  • abdominal sonography (images of the liver, kidneys, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas)
  • neurosonography (images of the brain and other parts of the nervous system)
  • breast sonography
  • vascular sonography
  • cardiac sonography

Work Environment

Diagnostic medical sonographers work at hospitals, medical clinics, and physicians’ clinics. Sonographers typically work 40 hours per week, which can include nights and weekends. They’re also sometimes required to remain on-call to respond to emergencies. In addition to administering medical diagnostic testing, sonographers are needed to fill research, teaching, and healthcare administration positions. Job growth for these specialists is projected to increase at a higher rate than average growth in other industries. As a result, experienced diagnostic medical sonographers are well-compensated for their services.

Education and Training

Aspiring diagnostic medical sonographers have the option of earning a professional certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Depending on the program, it typically takes 1-4 years to earn a degree for this field.

Applicants to a 1-year education program must possess qualifications in a clinically related allied health profession.

Applicants to 2-year programs must have a high school degree (or equivalent GED) with training/education in basic science, general physics, and algebra. All applicants must demonstrate college level competency in general physics, biological science, algebra, and communication skills.

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