Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
I. Job Description
Medical ultrasonography is one of the most harmless and common diagnostic tests. With the help of the ultrasonic method, which is based on the wave reflection from the surface of tissues, it is possible to visualize internal organs and assess information about their condition. A diagnostic medical sonographer is a specialist, who conducts the ultrasound investigation, which allows detecting changes in tissues and organs by the means of ultrasound.
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The principle of echolocation is the basis of ultrasound. The special equipment sends signals, which differ by a variety of acoustic properties reflected from the surface of the tissue medium and received by the equipment. In contemporary medicine, ultrasound examination is conducted quickly. The procedure is characterized by efficiency, visibility, and safety. Patients can have the procedure many times. Moreover, it does not require specific preparations (Andrews, 2007).
A diagnostic medical sonographer is an eminently qualified professional. He/she uses special equipment for the creation of structural pictures of the human body to make an appropriate diagnosis. A diagnostic medical sonographer uses a transducer near the body area that should be imaged. The equipment can receive and transmit sound. The transducer sends a stream of high-frequency sound waves into the body that bounces off the structures inside (Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, 2015). It discovers sound waves. Then, a computer studies the sound waves and creates a picture on a screen. The task of a diagnostic medical sonographer is to read a picture from the computer. In fact, the sonographer must correctly interpret and document sonographic appearances seen on the monitor for the patient to receive the highest quality of care (Swearengin, 2013, p. 1).
A doctor must observe the rules and principles of medical ethics and deontology. He/she should timely and skillfully execute orders, directives, and instructions of the head hospital doctor and regulatory legal acts on the professional activity. By the law, a diagnostic medical sonographer may be called to account for violation of labor discipline, legislative and regulatory acts to the disciplinary, administrative, and criminal liability depending on the gravity of the offense.
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II. Education, Registration, and Certification
To be a highly qualified professional, a diagnostic medical sonographer should have such qualities as assiduity, attentiveness, commutability, endurance, sensitivity, and expert knowledge. The profession also expects a doctor to be socially savvy. In many cases, a diagnostic medical sonographer is a person, from whom patients know about their diagnosis. They have a close contact with clients, as a sonographer is an excellent position to elicit pertinent information from the patient (Sanders & Winter, 2007, p. 39). The doctors should be able to communicate effectively and compassionately with patients varying from critically ill to healthy. Well-qualified sonographers play a crucial role in providing a correct diagnosis.
According to the specialty, a diagnostic medical sonographer needs to know modern methods of ultrasound diagnostics, content and sections of sonography as an independent scientific and practical discipline. The professional should understand the tasks, organization, structure, staffing, and equipment of the service of ultrasonic diagnosis, current regulatory and methodical documents on the specialty, as well as rules of medical documentation (Kupesic & Kurjak, 2000).
A doctor holds ultrasound diagnostics using the methods permitted for application in medical practice. A diagnostic medical sonographer determines tactics of ultrasound diagnosis of a patient by the established rules and standards. He/she participates in the development of the plan of a patients examination, clarifies the scope and rational methods of analysis of a patient to obtain complete and accurate diagnostic information in the shortest possible time. A diagnostic medical sonographer independently conducts the necessary diagnostic tests, and should systematically improve his/her professional skills.
III. Employment and Professional Activities
A diagnostic medical sonographer works in hospitals, laboratories, clinics, and other medical institutions where ultrasound examination and analysis of the images is performed. A modern diagnostic medical sonographer can evaluate a condition of the breast, kidney, thyroid, prostate, and entire abdominal cavity. Moreover, women often have an ultrasound during pregnancy. Therefore, the profession of a diagnostic medical sonographer is in high demand. It became extremely popular about twenty years ago. Moreover, it is expected that by 2020, the number of specialists in the profession will increase by 43.5% in the United States in both rural and urban areas. A diagnostic medical sonographer has excellent career opportunities. The doctor has professional advancement opportunities in research, education, and administration. Salaries for sonographers are comparatively higher than for other medical workers with a similar level of education. In 2015, the average salary of a diagnostic medical sonographer is about $ 79 thousand annually (Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, 2015).
Specialists must have a diploma of medical education and professional certification. Comprehensive Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs vary in length from one to four years depending on the degree or certificate awarded (Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, 2015). While there is no formal licensure process in most states, most employers prefer a candidate who has passed a certification exam by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, 2015). Moreover, there is a bachelor's program in sonography. Nevertheless, the majority of students receive two-year associate degrees in science or math. The curriculum has various medical courses, including instrumentation, anatomy, and physiology (Quinlan, 2015).
In the US, there are several National Professional Organizations for sonography, including the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, and others. Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers publishes its journal Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Swearengin, 2013).
Continuing Educational Units are required for sonographers. Once certified and registered in sonography, Registered Technologists (R.T.s) must complete 24 Category A or A+ continuing education (CE) credits (16 credits of which must be sonography-related) each biennium a two-year period that begins at the start of his or her birth month following initial certification and registration (The American Registry of Radiologic Technologies, 2015).
IV. Personal Career Path
A personal career plan to become a diagnostic medical sonographer includes several steps. First of all, a student must earn a sonography degree. The next step is to get clinical experience in the field. Then, it is necessary to earn sonography certification and secure a license (Andrews, 2007).
A diagnostic medical sonographer helps patients. In particular, using the technique, the physician diagnoses various diseases. If they are detected in the early stages, the chances for a speedy recovery of a patient are increased substantially. Therefore, a diagnostic medical sonographer not only improves the health of the patient but also can save his/her life.