Ultrasound Technician

Health care has come to rely more and more on advanced technology. Ultrasound, also called sonography, is one of the safest and most widely used forms of diagnostic imaging. Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves emitted into a patientís body. They reverberate off different materials and cavities in the body in different ways. They are captured by a computer that turns the information into an image of the inside of the body. Ultrasound images are difficult to interpret, so lots of training is required for the profession. Ultrasound technicians run ultrasound machines, analyze the images they capture, and explain results to patients. They work with pregnant women, the elderly, and infants. They must gain expertise in their field in a systematic and programmatic way. There are several ways to get the ultrasound technician training needed to start a career in the health care industry.

There are certificate and degree programs that provide the ultrasound technician training necessary for professionals. An associateís degree program in diagnostic sonography will offer the best-rounded curriculum. It might include courses in general science like biology, anatomy, and physiology. There may be coursework in professional communication and writing. The tools of ultrasound will be studied. Sonography for different demographics and illnesses may be taught. This might include obstetric and gynecological sonography, abdominal sonography, and circulatory sonography. It might include coursework in echocardiography or other imaging techniques. Certificate courses are generally shorter and more directed. Both certificate courses and degree programs offer clinical classes. These classes take place in hospitals, labs, or other health care institutions. They allow students to put their hands-on machines and work with real patients. This kind of ultrasound technician training is the most valuable a student can get.

Hospitals often offer training programs for ultrasound technicians. Some hospitals have developed curriculums for training staff in ultrasound technology. These programs may be very short, ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months. Many hospital training programs will focus on job skills almost exclusively and offer a certificate upon completion. They will deal with ultrasound imaging for obstetrics, gynecology, renal health, and other important systems that can be imaged using ultrasound. These are available to non-ultrasound technicians, including nurses and medical assistants.

Some people get ultrasound technician training through the military. The U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force offer programs for their members that allow them to make the transition to civilian life. These military ultrasound training programs are widely respected by employers. Extra training can be found through professional associations for ultrasound technicians and sonographers. They offer publications that highlight new equipment and techniques. They also offer their members classes and even scholarships to take those classes. Many associations have running lecture series and conferences during which new research is presented. These can be a great opportunity to learn new skills, meet prospective employers, and network in the community. Associations charge their members dues, but these can be worth it in the long run.

When pursuing ultrasound technician training, it is possible to expand your skill set by learning other diagnostic imaging methods. Learning how to perform x-rays, for example, can give an ultrasound technician an upper hand on the competition. That kind of versatility is valued by employers looking to save money on costs. Nuclear medicine is another avenue for diagnostic imaging. Nuclear medicine technologists administer radioactive pharmaceuticals to patients and then record how they respond. These methods are often taught at the same schools and programs as ultrasound technician training courses.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014