An ultrasound technician career can be very rewarding – professionally, financially and personally. The career offers growth, good salary, and work satisfaction; a combination that makes it one of the most sought after professions in the current decade.
The Medical Uses of Ultrasound Technology
Pregnancy: The most popularly use of ultrasound technology is during pregnancy – where it is used from detection until delivery. In fact, most ultrasound technicians enjoy working with pregnant women and seeing the joy on the face of the family when the pregnancy is detected and regular checkups are done for ensuring health of the baby and the mother. Ultrasound technology can also detect any irregularities during the pregnancy and corrective measure can be taken immediately by the doctor.
Organ abnormalities & Tumors: Apart from pregnancy, ultrasound technology is used in detection of various medical conditions. These include tumors, internal bleeding, stone formations, and blockages in the heart. Ultrasound also helps in observing and diagnosing abnormalities in organs such as liver, kidneys, ovaries, uterus, spleen, thyroid, scrotum, pancreas, bladder, intestines, stomach, breast etc.
The Ultrasound Technician’s Work Environment
Employers: The majority of ultrasound technicians have a career in hospitals and large healthcare setups. Other employers include doctors’ clinics and specialized diagnostic laboratories.
Work Area: The work environment is dimly lit most of the time. A major chunk of time at work is spent with patients and near to the diagnostic machines. Also, an ultrasound technician usually spends most of his or her day up on feet, standing and moving around.
Work Hours: They usually work full day Monday through Friday.
Ultrasound: A Highly Safe Technology
A highly positive aspect an ultrasound technician’s career is that the ultrasound technology is perfectly safe. Unlike X-ray, CT or MRI, ultrasound is free from the use of damaging radiation, dyes, or invasive procedures. The technology is perfectly safe even for pregnant women, babies and elderly persons; and has no allergic reactions or after-effects. It is perfectly safe for the technician performing the imaging procedure as well as the patient.
What does an Ultrasound Technician Do?
An ultrasound technician is a healthcare professional trained in using ultrasound technology (sonography), to create images of organs for medical diagnosis.
The Procedure: Ultrasound is a technique where high frequency sound waves are used to generate images of patients’ internal organs and soft tissues. These images are obtained when the ultrasound technician uses a bean-shaped hand held device (transducer) on the patients’ body. The images (still and/or moving) are recorded as they require further interpretation by a qualified physician.
Ultrasound Imaging: The ultrasound technician is trained to identify the best images for most effective diagnosis by the physician. This requires good technique of positioning the patient correctly, as well as correct use of the transducer. Especially when the patient is physically handicapped or seriously ill, the skill requirement is enhanced. In such cases, an experienced ultrasound technician will usually be able to create better imaging than a less experienced one.
Administrative Duties: An ultrasound technician’s career is not limited to medical duties only. There are some administrative duties which need to be handled as well. These are broadly divided into two areas: (1) Documentation & Records and (2) Equipment Maintenance. The ultrasound technician must maintain proper records as per statutory and insurance requirements. The equipment needs to be managed well and maintenance is required to be undertaken at regular intervals.
Patient Interaction & Patient Care: An ultrasound technician spends most of his time interacting with patients and performing ultrasound procedures. This requires constant verbal and physical contact with the patient. Sometimes the patient or his/her friends and relatives may be anxious, finicky, troublesome, arrogant, or difficult to deal with. At such times, the ultrasound technician should have the people skills to calm and persuade the patient to undergo the ultrasound procedure in the best possible manner. There may be additional physical handling required in the case of physically handicapped, very old, or very sick patients. The ultrasound technician should be able to handle patients empathically and should have a warm and friendly personality.
Constant Upgradation: The field of ultrasound technology is developing very fast, and innovations are happening rapidly. New technologies are being introduced very regularly. The requirement of documentation and record keeping methods & standards is also changing. Telemedicine, mobile based diagnosis, remote testing and diagnosis etc. is being successfully implemented across the world in ultrasound technology. The ultrasound technician is required to continuously keep himself updated about the latest developments, technologies, as well as changes in documentation requirements.