In the grand landscape of healthcare, ultrasound technicians play a critical role in the domain of diagnostics. They are the helping hands of doctors and other health professionals for diagnosing a range of different ailments. With slight variances in the job description, the titles pertaining to this position is also referred to as a sonographer or diagnostic medical sonographer.
Any certified ultrasound technician or sonographer has to directly work with patients and physicians. Sometimes, they also act as liaisons between the two.
4 Things That Are Part of an Ultrasound Technician’s Job
It’s clear that any ultrasound technicians work on different high-frequency sonic machines. However, it is important to understand what they actually do in a real clinical setting.
1) Running the Diagnosis
Ultrasound technicians are not mere machine operators. Equipped with associate degrees and CME courses, they are full-time medical professionals. So, while operating an ultrasound machine, they recognize and record the given anatomy and the pathology for which an ultrasound or sonographic test has been prescribed in the first place.
2) Equipment Care
Ultrasound and sonography equipment is the main working tool of ultrasound technicians. So, they are the first people who have to take care of the equipment and promptly report any mechanical failure. They are, however, not responsible for fixing and repairing the machines.
3) Assisting Other Diagnostics Experts
Some ailments require comprehensive diagnostic procedures where more than one technique has to be used. In such scenarios, ultrasound technicians have to work along with other diagnostics experts e.g. helping radiologists with vascular ultrasounds and ultrasound-guided biopsies.
4) Report Writing and Correspondence
After conducting the tests and scans, a certified ultrasound technician has to write reports outlining the results. With writing these reports, they actually interpret the ultrasound imagery into words. They also correspond with the relevant healthcare staff if an anomaly in the test needs immediate checkup and attention.
The Competency and Skill Set Required to be a Good Ultrasound Technician
Before we discuss the formal education and training requirements, it is important to throw some light on the ‘soft skills’ that are required to be a good ultrasound professional.
Able to work with minimal supervision: Many times the technician has to take care of everything in the ultrasound room. So, any aspirant ultrasound technician must have the acumen to work with minimal or no supervision.
Able to match the time-sensitive nature of their work environment: Ultrasound technicians have to work through crunch times given the nature of the medical field. Multitasking is a soft skill that will come really handy in this regard.
An ultrasound technician should be an active and patient listener: Patients, particularly the first timers, are apprehensive of any medical producer. So, they generally fire away a lot of questions at the person attending them. A fine ultrasound technician, therefore, must have the capability to answer the questions including the really inane ones.
Verbal communication: Apart from addressing the apprehension of patients, ultrasound technicians must have exemplary communication skills to effectively instruct them to get the required scans without unnecessary iteration.
Reading Understanding: They often have to conduct tests as per the physicians’ reports and instructions. For that, it is important to have good reading comprehension.
Formal Requirements to Be an Ultrasound Technician
There is a mix of different degrees, courses, and certifications that can lead you to complete the formal educational requirement to be an ultrasound technician.
The primary route to be an ultrasound technician is to get an associate or bachelor degree in the respective field. You can complete the degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography through two and four-year programs. The educational institutes offering these degrees must be accredited from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
This is the most significant part of the formal requirements of becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer and ultrasound technician. To complete the credentials to be qualified ultrasound technician, you need to first complete your degree in the relevant field.
Credentialing programs can work all across the US with minor conditional requirements. The credential certifications entail CME courses that train you in particular ultrasound imaging techniques. For instance, people enrolled in these courses can complete their credit hours by studying specialized ultrasound procedures (e.g. obstetrics and gynecology, breast and vascular). These credentials can easily be fulfilled through online courses.
There is a list of online CME ultrasound courses that are accepted by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). This means they are in complete compliance with the requirements of healthcare employers.
Even though these certification and online courses is not a mandatory requirement to get an ultrasound technician placement, but the majority of employers ask for them. In other words, any of CME online ultrasound course recognized by ARDMS is essential to improve your job prospects.
Benefits of Online Ultrasound CME Courses
For medical professionals, education is an ongoing process. They can’t stop learning once they have completed their degree. For that matter, apprentice ultrasound technicians need to get enrolled in courses as they commence their professional journey. It makes them proficient in their jobs and as well as brighten their future prospects.
Attending live lectures and going to physical places is never easy if you are already doing a full-time job. In addition, these courses don’t come cheap. They can put a lot of strain on the budget of an individual who has just started out on his/her career trajectory.
In this context, online CME courses provide the best alternative. They are exceedingly affordable and can be completed at your own convenience.
Before we finish up our article, it is important to discuss the monetary side of the job. As per the statistics furnished by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017, the median annual salary of an ultrasound technician is $55, 270. Like any other field, the amount of salary depends on various factors. The common parameters for setting the salary of an ultrasound technician are:
- Level of experience
- Level of expertise
- Number of certifications and completed CME course