Professionals who decide to become medical sonographers will be responsible for dealing with a variety of life changing medical issues and questions with the use of ultrasound technology.
Sonograms are used to view babies in the womb, and also are useful for diagnosing many medical conditions by creating detailed images of tissues and body organs.
Medical sonographers can earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in this profession. There are several different specialties of sonographer:
- Musculoskeletal: Create images of ligaments, muscles, joints and tendons
- Neurosonographers: Focus on the nervous system, spinal cord and brain
- Abdominal sonographers: Capture images of the abdomen and vital organs such as the kidney, liver and pancreas
- Pediatric sonographers: Focus on imaging patients who are children or infants. Many of the medical conditions they deal with are associated with premature childbirth.
- Breast sonographers: Capture detailed images of breast tissue to confirm if there are tumors or cysts present.
Skilled sonographers play a critical role in getting a proper diagnosis for many potentially serious medical conditions. This is a job that has important technical and social aspects; sonographers have to put a patient in the correct position to ensure that the machine will capture a good image that is useful to the doctor who will read it.
Popular Career Paths in Sonography
The healthcare field is growing rapidly. You can be confident that there will be ample jobs available in the sonography field. Some of the common positions with a degree in this field include those below.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
These sonographers create detailed images of the organs and tissues of our bodies. The images are called sonograms or ultrasounds. Sonograms are normally one of the first imaging tests that is done when a disease is thought to exist. Sonographers must work very closely with doctors and surgeons when a procedure is being done.
Diagnostic sonographers use sound waves of very high frequency to produce body images. The worker uses an ultrasound transducer on the parts of the body that need to be imaged. The transducer sends out a pulse of sound that bounces back and causes several echoes. The echoes are then delivered to the ultrasound device. They are then processed and displayed as images for the doctor to read.
There will be a 26% increase in job demand in this profession by 2024, which is much faster than average.
These imaging professionals create images and do tests and related medical procedures that involve the heart. Some the most common cardiovascular technologists are:
- Cardiac sonographer: Images the heart and uses an ultrasound device to look closely at the chambers, valves and vessels of the heart. These images are called echocardiograms. This procedure can be done when the patient is resting or soon after being physically active.
- Cardiovascular invasive specialist: This is also called a cardiovascular technologist. This worker monitors the heart rate of the patient and helps doctors to diagnose and treat heart problems. They may assist with a heart catheterization procedure, which involves putting a catheter through an artery into the heart. They also will monitor the patient during open heart surgery and when pacemakers and stents are put in.
- Cardiographic technician: They specialize in electrocardiogram testing. An EKG machine performs monitoring of the performance of the heart via electrodes that are attached the the chest, arms and legs of the patient.
These workers will see 22% job growth by 2022, which is much faster than average.
Different Types of Sonographer Degrees
You may choose from several types of degrees in sonography:
Bachelor’s Level Degree Options – Medical Sonography
If you want to enter this field with the best possible education, should consider a Bachelor of Science in Medical Sonography from Nova Southeastern University. This four year degree will put you well ahead of the competition and will prepare you for your national registry exam to become a practicing sonographer.
This is an intensive program that involves completing 30 hours of prerequisites. You will spend 27 months getting exposed to all of the important aspects of the sonography field. You will take many laboratory courses in ultrasound technology, venous testing and other aspects of sonography. In your second year, you will spend several months working a clinical externship.
Your externship will solidify the knowledge and skills that you will have built up over the previous two years. Highly experienced faculty members will guide you along this entire process.
During the 27 month didactic program, you will take many courses online:
- Principles of Leadership
- Health Policy
- Conflict Resolution
- Research Design in Healthcare
- Cultural Competency
- Academic and Professional Writing
- Healthcare and Aging
This program has been specifically designed so that you can pass the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) registry examination in order to obtain the RDMS and RVT credentials.
Bachelor’s Degree Options – Cardiac Sonography
If you want to become a cardiac sonographer, you may want to consider this online bachelor’s program that is offered by the Jefferson College of Health Professions.
This program will teach you how to use ultrasound technology to examine the heart’s of patients who have heart problems. You will learn how to use a sophisticated, advanced ultrasound imaging machine to produce highly detailed images of the heart.
You will develop the skills to work with both healthy and ill patients of all ages.
Required courses in this three year program are:
- Cardiovascular Physiology
- Patient Care & Services in Medical Imaging & Radiation Oncology 2
- Cardiac Procedures
- Cardiac Principles
- Ultrasound Physics
- Clinical Cardiac
- Special Topics in Cardiac Sonography
- Noninvasive Testing Principles & Proc.
- Cardiovascular Pathophysiology
Students have the option of completing the cardiac sonography concentration as part of this university’s radiologic sciences bachelor program. You also have the option of completing other specialties so that you have a more well rounded and versatile education:
- Radiation therapy
- Medical dosimetry
- Nuclear medicine
- Computed tomography
If you plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in sonography, you will be spending three or four years and plenty of money on your education. You should verify that the program you are considering has been accredited by a highly respected accreditation body.
When you see that the program is properly accredited, you have confidence that the program will teach you what you need to succeed in your sonography career.
In this field, you should look for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or CAAHEP.
The sonography field is growing very quickly, and if you earn your degree in this field, you should be able to find plenty of good jobs available in most areas of the country.
Demand is being driven by improving imaging technology. As this technology gets better and cheaper, many medical facilities are relying on sonograms to replace more expensive and invasive medical procedures. Ultrasound is comparatively inexpensive and is one of the first line diagnostic tools today.
Third party payers encourage the use of sonograms to save on medical costs. Further, our aging population will need more medical procedures and diagnostic procedures in the future.
Thus, sonography has a very bright future before it, and a bachelor’s in this field is a great investment in your career.