Deciding on a career in healthcare in 2014 is challenging because there are so many options. One of the possibilities is sonography, also known as ultrasound technology or diagnostic medical sonography. With millions of uninsured people joining the insured in 2014 due to the introduction of a national health insurance program, there will be a great need for certified diagnostic medical sonographers. However, before making the decision to become a sonographer, there are a few things to consider as this is not the right profession for everyone.
1. A person dislikes working with people and prefers a set schedule.
During a normal shift, a sonographer interacts with up to 12 patients and a number of doctors and other hospital staff. Sonographers need to greet the patient and explain the process in a professional but reassuring manner. They are hands-on healthcare professionals who prepare patients for imaging and position them during the procedure. Sonographers also work with doctors, nurses, office workers, families, and others.
It is often necessary to adjust the planned work schedule to provide unforeseen or urgent patient services. The sonographer must be able to maintain their composure while dealing with stressful situations and be willing to work extra hours to ensure quality patient care.
In fact, working sonographers often point out that their positions require the equivalent of a week of on-call time per month. You may need to switch shifts, and some people find that difficult to manage. These time demands interfere with social activities and require additional family planning. Those who don’t want to take on these types of schedules should choose a different career field.
2. Someone dislikes technology or regularly updates knowledge and skills as technology advances.
Sonographers are responsible for the preparation, use, and subsequent recalibration of sophisticated equipment. You must be able to tell when the ultrasound machine is not working properly, and that requires in-depth knowledge and experience, as well as frequent updates of the information. Ultrasound technologists use a variety of medical radiological positioning aids; ultrasound, doppler or echo monitors; 3D sonography devices; pulse echo or echography units; cardioscopes; computers; medical software; and much more.
New ultrasound technologies are constantly being developed, requiring sonographers to invest time and effort in learning new equipment and techniques. Only recently, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering developed a handheld ultrasound imaging device, and more new devices are sure to be introduced in the future. In order to stay up to date, sonographers must regularly learn how to use the new ultrasound device technologies.
Sonographers who meet the requirements of their educational program should take the ARDMS exams to earn credentials. The ARDMS-registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer must complete a minimum of 30 Continuing Medical Education (CMEs) requirements during a specified three-year period to maintain the qualification. After the three years, there is a 10-year recertification period. Professionals interested in maintaining quality standards and advancing their careers will go beyond the minimum requirements and regularly attend informative workshops, seminars and/or courses offering CME credits.
3. There is little interest in keeping detailed medical records or working in bureaucratic systems with strict rules.
If a personal vision of being a sonographer involves only working with patients and then passing on the maintenance of records to others, the vision needs to be corrected. Sonographers manage a mix of entering electronic medical records and filling out paperwork. They create accurate records of information by documenting the number and type of images captured and the content of each image. Healthcare professionals may be responsible for scheduling exams, obtaining informed consent, and completing safety reports.
The amount of manual paperwork required depends on where the sonographer will be used. A large hospital may have installed a sophisticated computer system integrated with medical equipment, and patient outcomes are automatically recorded and paperwork is minimized. However, if the sonographer is working for a small, rural outpatient center, significant paperwork may be required.
In any doctor’s office or business, there are daily routines, minimum job requirements, the need to comply with detailed government regulations, extensive record keeping, and staff grading. The sonographer is accountable to radiologists, physicians and supervisors. The job can get pretty complicated at times. For this reason, sonographers must be flexible and able to work within an established system.
4. It is important to receive a lot of recognition and regular awards for work performance.
Sonographers are “quiet” healthcare professionals. They are not typically seen running down hospital hallways to respond to 911 calls or attending award ceremonies held in their honor. Sonographers choose their careers because they want to help people and transform their lives by providing quality healthcare services.
For anyone who needs a lot of back pats to stay motivated, Diagnostic Medical Sonography is not a good career choice.
5. The ideal job is one that involves routine work that doesn’t require critical thinking, active listening, problem solving, or decision making.
Sonographers are key players in the delivery of healthcare services. They not only prepare patients and take pictures. You must analyze the images to determine if they are usable or need revision. The professional must make decisions about equipment adjustments and the best method to adjust patient position to obtain accurate images. They must decide which images to keep and which to discard. The trained specialists also determine the scope of the examination when the images are taken.
The Diagnostic Medical Sonographer is responsible for ensuring that the image is complete enough for the intended purpose, which may be evaluating internal organs, locating nerve abnormalities, locating breast disease, or determining whether a fetus is developing normally.
Unsung heroes with one goal: help patients
Sonographers can rightly be called unsung heroes because they play such an important role in providing non-invasive diagnostic medical services. The patient may be talking about a great doctor or a wonderful hospital, but it’s unlikely anyone will hear him or her talking about the stunning images of heart disease or a brain tumor. When expectant parents show fetus pictures to family and friends, they talk about plans for the baby or the excitement of knowing it’s a boy or girl. You may remember the “nice person who took the pictures”. However, it is likely that they will not be overheard as they discuss the sonographer’s skills that produced the images.
People choose to become a sonographer because they want to help people and are attracted to the medical field, but they don’t want to be a doctor or nurse. The rest becomes unimportant. It is really that easy.