Ultrasonic and digital imaging is the first step to diagnosis for most health issues. For those with a hand of care and keen vision to handle this as a profession, know more on sonographer education, in this article.
The booming health industry has opened doors to many professions that assist health professionals and experts in diagnosis and treatments. Talking about diagnosis alone, there are many tests and procedures that are required, so as to help the doctors determine the underlying problem with the patient. Sonography is one such field that has its vital part in testing and diagnosis. This is highly referred as a safe process as compared to X-rays, and is cost-effective too. Sonography is a medical testing process, that uses sound waves for digital imaging of the internal organs, blood flow, and tissues of the human body. This process is also termed as sonogram or ultrasound scan. Qualified technicians use sonographic diagnostic procedures to produce visual images and videos, scans, 3D anatomy, and other data of the patient’s internal organs, with the help of ultrasonic imaging devices. These professionals are not physicians, and are defined as sonographers. The images and data that they produce help the doctors and physicians conclude with exact underlying problems and further complications. The following is an insight on the educational requirements, for all those with the passion for this career.
Having a strong educational background is vital to get through advanced programs to become a sonographer. A Bachelor’s Degree or a high school diploma or similar background is a must to enroll for any specialized training or course. Candidates with a math, science and health background, are most preferred in these training programs. Certain programs also prefer applications that have an experience in any health care profession. Most of the diagnostic sonography training programs and education are conducted in schools, institutions and colleges. To become a professional, one can get hired through an experience with on-job-training and practice in sonography, that has been accredited by the American Institution of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM). Apart from educational requirements, good vocabulary and communication skills are also important.
Professional education courses in training offer an associates or a bachelor’s degree. Colleges and universities, educational institutes, hospitals and armed forces too have these formal training programs that can be for 2 years for an associates degree and 4 years for a bachelor’s degree. There are certain 1 year program courses too that are considered as formal education for a sonographer, provided the candidate has enough on-the-job-training or an experience in any other health care profession. This 1 year program is specially beneficial for allied health care professionals looking for advanced studies and employment. There are more than 150 sonography training programs that have been approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Certain hospitals, colleges and universities, conduct these accredited programs that make employment easier. The course fees, and duration and course will be different for each institute and school. The training includes course works mainly in anatomy. Key areas are physiology, physics and instrumentation, medical ethics and patient care, abdominal sonography, sonographic clinical practicum, applications of ultrasound, etc. The basic course will be common for all applicants, however, after completing the basics, you will have to take specialized training in the various sonography fields. The following is a quick description of each.
|Types of Sonography|
|Obstetrics/Gynecology||examination of female reproductive anatomy|
|Breast Sonography||detect and evaluate breast abnormalities|
|Neurosonology||examination of the nervous system and brain|
|Ophthalmology||examination of the eye orbital structures and muscles|
|Echocardiology or Vascular Technology||examining the abdominal blood vessels|
|Abdominal Sonography||examination of the abdominal cavities and organs|
After graduating from the sonography trainings and programs, it is advisable to complete a certification exam that is conducted by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Most of the employers prefer candidates that have a certification along with formal education. Although certification or a license is not compulsory in all states, a certificate with the ARDMS gains more employment exposure.
Work, Employment and Salary
Sonographers are responsible for handling the equipment, explaining to the patient about the procedures, and guiding them throughout the tests. The salary will vary with location of employment, and years of experience. A fresher can expect anything in between $30,000 to $40,000 p.a., while an experienced professional can earn as high as $75,000 p.a. Employment can be full-time and part-time as well. Hospitals, imaging centers, clinics and others, are the most favorable places for employment. After formal education and good experience in this field, one can also work as a researcher, administrator, or in field of education, etc.
This job is set to grow in the coming years. For those with a passion for ultrasounds and imaging, dealing with patients, and the ability to handle sophisticated and complicated equipment, start working on the educational base to this career.