Career Profile: Medical Sonographer
When you injure an arm or a leg, your doctor might send you to an x-ray technician. If another part of your body is in pain, you might go to a medical sonographer to have pictures taken of things that an x-ray can’t show. Medical sonographers work with doctors and nurses to help diagnose diseases and other health problems that people might have. Without these technicians, diagnosis of disease would be much harder than it is now. If you become a medical sonographer, you can be an important part of keeping people healthy.
Have you ever heard of medical sonography before? You might have heard of its more common name, the ultrasound. Most people think that ultrasound tests are only for pregnant women, but medical sonography can be about much more than that. Sonography is also about checking and treating the heart, blood vessels and even the skeleton. It works by sending sound pulses through the body to create an image on a screen.
Medical sonographers operate the equipment that takes pictures of these and other areas of the body to check for problems. They check the quality of the images, write out reports for doctors, and take care of and sometimes repair the equipment. Some medical sonographers also train students and help to make sure that the quality of the work is good.
The equipment used for medical sonography can be complicated, and learning to use it properly takes some time. Normally, medical sonographers study for about three years after high school to learn what they need to know. While they study sonography, they can also learn to work in the laboratory and to perform medical tests. That way, they have the skills to work in different areas of a hospital or doctor’s office and can work in a variety of contexts.
Medical sonographers need to have a basic understanding of the technical aspects of their work, such as how to use and repair the equipment and how the imaging helps with diagnosing diseases. However, they also need to be able to work with people.
Often, the patients who come to have the test done are feeling sick or unsure of how the medical system works. Medical sonographers should be able to help patients through the process by explaining what the test will be able to tell the doctor and by making sure that they understand what is happening. When the job also includes supervising other workers, the ability to deal with people is especially helpful.
Working as a sonographer is much less visible than many other jobs in the medical field, but it is very important. Medical sonographers never perform surgery or save people’s lives with treatments, but diagnosis would be difficult or sometimes even impossible without them. The job pays about $80,000 per year. People in this field can usually expect to work fairly regular hours, and job prospects are likely to improve in the next few years. If the idea of medical sonography appeals to you, consider it as a career option.