Ultrasound Medical Career Options
Ultrasound is one of several imaging technologies used in medicine. X-ray machines use radiation, while CT and MRI scanners use radio waves. The third form of technology is ultrasound, or sonography. Becoming a sonographer is the first step in the career, but many in the field specialize. Here are five steps that you can take along your path to an ultrasound career.
You can choose the best known sonography specialty which is the obstetric or gynecological field. This will provide you the opportunity to inform the expectant couple whether their child is a boy or a girl. Other exams in this field examine the ovaries, the uterus, the bladder and the Fallopian tubes. Many of these exams are conducted to look for cancerous growth.
Abdominal sonographers conduct tests that focus on another set of abdominal organs: the kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, spleen, and male reproductive organs. Tests on these organs may highlight stones in the bile ducts or kidneys, or detect unusual growths or swelling.
You can opt to become a neurosonographer, a technician that specializes in the nervous system, which includes the brain. Technicians in this specialty do a lot of work in the neonatal unit at a hospital, working with premature babies and checking for neurological disorders. Sonograms are also used on blood vessels in infants, seeking evidence of a stroke in children born with sickle cell anemia. The equipment for neurosonography uses a frequency and “beam shape” that differs from those used by sonographers working with the abdominal cavity.
You can opt to specialize in breast sonography. This technology complements the X-ray exams used in mammograms to detect tumors or growths in the breast. Sonography of the breast can provide information on blood supply conditions within the breast, on changes in any tumors, and can also assist in the biopsy process. Once again, technicians working in this specialty use a high frequency sound wave that is unique to breast sonography.
Choose among a one year certificate program, a two-year associate’s degree program or a four-year bachelor’s degree. Generally, the more education a sonographer has the better the resume looks. Employers prefer to hire certified sonographers, a status which is conveyed by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) after an examination which includes material on whichever specialty the sonographer has trained for. Sonography is a career that is only going to get more interesting, as researchers discover more ways to use the technology for medical imaging.
Bob Hartzell writes on careers for GetDegrees.com. On the website you’ll find comprehensive information on ultrasound degrees as well as resources for educational opportunities in hundreds of other professions.
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