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Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Diagnostic Medical Sonography is a profession with multi specialties consisting of several different areas, such as, abdominal sonography, breast sonography, cardiac sonography obstetrics/gynecology, pediatric, vascular and other clinical areas. Diagnostic sonographers play an important role in the diagnosis of patients. They utilize imaging equipment and sound waves to obtain images of different parts of the body, which can help doctors, diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions. Lazzaro Spallanzi, an Italian Biologist was the first person to discover ultrasonography. In 1794 he performed studies on bats, which showed that they could navigate using sound instead of sight. Today this is known as echolocation, where locations are identified through sound waves. The technology used in medical ultrasound is continuously evolving and contributes to improve patient diagnosis and treatment.
A typical day for a sonographer includes operating the imaging equipment, and most importantly reviewing the images to be sure that they are of good quality and helpful for diagnosis. Sonographers identify normal and abnormal imaging results, which then they are responsible to communicate a summary of the results to the physician. Preparing patients for their procedure and educating them during the ultrasound exam is also one of their roles. However, providing results to patients is not permitted as it can cause unnecessary worry. Regardless, it is important to always execute ultrasound scans with tact and respect.
A true professional should always have strong work ethics and values. Integrity, honesty, and respect in medical professionals promote excellence in patient care. The purpose in having code of ethics encourages responsibility and accountability among medical sonographers. Promoting patient well-being is an essential part of a sonographer’s day. Information regarding the patient’s procedure should always be given, as well as responding to questions and concerns.
Medical sonographers should always respect the patient’s autonomy and the right to refuse the procedure. In order to be able to practice in the field one must obtain appropriate education and clinical skills to ensure competence. Most importantly, always be truthful with patients and colleagues. In order to practice sonography one must complete certain requirements to be able to obtain licensure. Typically an associate or bachelors degree is required to pursue employment in this field. The average years it takes to complete the sonography program is approximately two years if acquiring an associate degree. If obtaining a bachelors degree it will take at least four years to complete. Sonographers have physical requirements that they have to consider. Most of them work in hospitals, where 12-hour shifts are typical. They should have the ability to work in a fast paced environment, have strong attention to detail, ability to work in high stress environment, stand and walk for hours at a time.
For many students living in the state of Florida there are two main institutions offering this program, Keiser University and Miami Dade College. These colleges are both great institutions that offer an associate in science to complete the program. The approximate cost for the program in Keiser University is $10,000 and $9,000 for Miami Dade College. In addition to acquiring an associate or bachelors degree a few states require sonographers to be licensed. State requirements may vary, however, a professional certification from a credentialing organization is often required to become licensed. Registration through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists must be renewed annually. Medical Sonographers must complete 24 education credits every two years in order to remain certified.
Sonographers can also pursue certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Graduating from an accredited program, completing clinical experience, and passing an exam are the main pathways to becoming certified. Once graduated and certified, these individuals not only work in hospitals but are also employed by private offices, medical centers, and clinics. Sonography is one of the fields at the moment that is widely growing. Advances in imaging technology are leading facilities to increase the utilization of ultrasound since they are often less expensive and less invasive. It is extremely useful as it can be used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
Experience is required to work in the field, however, those who have earned a degree in medical sonography it is important to obtain clinical experience. During this time, one can become acquainted with the daily responsibilities while under the supervision of an experienced professional. Years of experience play a role when speaking about salary. For entry-level positions individuals earn an average wage of $24.99 an hour. For an experienced sonographer they earn an average of $35.11 an hour. Many students may face difficulty in finding a job in the field due to it’s high level of competency, however, educational institutions help students in finding jobs in the field but there are also newspapers and newsletters where job listings are advertised, such as the Miami Herald.
As the field gets more competitive, it is crucial to take advantage of all the help available. There are many organizations that sonography students and professionals can join. The purpose of these organizations is to help students and professionals stay connected to group of sonographers working around the world and being able to collaborate with each other and finding resources for training in specific areas. Many of them do charge a membership fee, which varies depending on the organization. Some recognized groups are Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, American Society of Echocardiography, and much more.
Last but not least, in addition to requirements and certifications, members of professional organizations can earn CEU’s, which can be taken online, in webinar or e-seminar format, or in person classes. CEU’s can be earned to maintain NCRA certifications, however, it is not required for the medical sonography program. In conclusion, the reason why I am pursuing a career in medical sonography is because it has always been a passion of mine to work with patients and being able to care for them and a make a difference in people’s lives. I see myself being a great fit for this profession. I consider being a person with integrity, honesty, respect, and care. The human body fascinates me and the ability to capture images of what is happening in the body is interesting and engaging.
My future goals in this profession are to begin an internship and join an organization to gather information, experience, and network with other students and professionals. My first area of employment would preferably be in a hospital to be able to experience all the different areas sonography has to offer. However, I am mostly interested in specializing in Cardiovascular or Obstetrics and Gynecology. After acquiring years of experience with different areas I would like to settle in a clinic or a doctors office and work closely with a physician.
- Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. (2017). Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographyhttps://www.sdms.org/about/who-we-are/code-of-ethics
- College of Medicine and Science (2019). Diagnostic Medical Sonography https://college.mayo.edu/academics/explore-health-care-careers/careers-a-z/diagnostic-medical-sonographer/
- Ultrasound Technician Center (2018). Benefits of Joining Sonography Organizationshttps://www.ultrasoundtechniciancenter.org/education/benefits-of-joining-sonography-organizations.html
- Ultrasound Schools Info (2019). History of Ultrasound https://www.ultrasoundschoolsinfo.com/history/
- Medical Technology Schools (2015). How to Become A Sonographer https://www.medicaltechnologyschools.com/ultrasound-technician/how-to-become-a-sonographer
- American Society of Echocardiography (2019). Scope of Practice for the Diagnostic Ultrasound Professional
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