What is sonography?
Ultrasonography, commonly referred to as sonography, is a diagnostic medical procedure that uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce dynamic visual images of organs, tissues, or blood flow inside the body. This type of procedure is often referred to as a sonogram or ultrasound scan. Sonography can be used to examine parts of the body such as the abdomen, breasts, female reproductive system, prostate, heart, and blood vessels. Sonography is used in the detection and treatment of heart disease, heart attack, and vascular disease that can lead to stroke. It is also used to guide fine needles, in tissue biopsy, and to assist in taking cell samples for lab testing. Unlike X rays, sonography is a radiation free imaging modality. There are several areas of specialization in the field of sonography such as abdominal (liver spleen, urinary tract, pancreas, etc), breast, gynecological, echocardiography (blood flow of the heart), vascular technology (abdominal blood flow), neurosonology (brain & spinal cord), and ophthalmology (eye and orbital structures).
What does a medical sonographer do?
A diagnostic medical sonographer is a highly-skilled professional who uses specialized equipment to create images of structures inside the human body that are used by physicians to make a medical diagnosis. The process involves placing a small device called a transducer against the patient’s skin near the body area to be imaged. The transducer works like a loudspeaker and microphone because it can transmit and receive sound, sending a stream of high frequency sound waves into the body where they bounce off of the structures inside. These sounds are analyzed by a computer to make an image of the structures on a television screen or taped recording. Sonographers have extensive direct patient contact that may include performing some invasive procedures. They interact with people that range from healthy to the critically ill. A medical sonographer’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
* Obtaining and recording an accurate patient history
* Performing diagnostic procedures& obtaining diagnostic images
* Analyzing technical information
* Using independent judgment in recognizing the need to extend the scope of the procedure according to diagnostic analysis.
* Providing an oral and written summary of the technical findings to the physician for medical diagnosis.
* Providing quality patient care.
* Collaborating with physicians and other members of the health care team.
What are the career opportunities in sonography?
The field of sonography has grown significantly in the last 20 years. Today sonographers can choose to work in a variety of clinics, hospitals, private practice physician offices, public health facilities, laboratories, and other medical settings performing examinations in their areas of specialization. Additional career advancement opportunities exist in education, administration, research, and commercial companies as education/application specialists, sales representatives, technical advisors, etc.
What salary can I expect as a trained medical sonographer?
In addition to excellent career opportunities, salaries for medical sonographers are competitive or higher than other professionals with similar levels of education. According to salary.com (2009) the average salary for sonagraphers was $62,442, similarly indeed.com noted a salary of 66,000, and salaryexpert.com 61,000 – 66,000. $SDMS salary and benefits guide (released march 2005) noted a typical hourly rate of $29 with 3 hours overtime on average, and on-call pay rate of $3/hour with an incall rate of $42/hour. Salaries vary based on location, years experience, number of specialties practiced, as well as geographic location. There are opportunities for full and part time employment as well.