The demand for sonography is increasing nowadays due to baby boomer generation ages and increasing susceptible illness. Here we will describe how to become an ultrasound technician, specialty areas that ultrasound technician can work and types of degree depending on the specialty you are interested in.
Ultrasound technology is one area of medical imaging specializations and there are other areas like sonography, radiology, vascular, cardiac, nuclear medicine, magnetic resonance imaging and many others. The main difference between these specialty areas is the use of the technology for creating images or focus on specific body parts.
Ultrasound Technician / Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
These technicians are specialized with the sonograms and ultrasound equipment. This equipment uses sound waves to create an image of inner body parts. Ultrasound technicians have generally assisted the physicians and doctors to diagnose patients’ medical conditions. Ultrasounds are mainly used for pregnancies so hopeful parents can view their growth of the unborn baby. Ultrasound technology is also used to diagnose the heart disease and cancer.
MRI technicians’ main task is operating MRI scanners. Through MRI scanners, technicians diagnose the patient’s body parts using radio frequencies and magnetic fields. Based on that, they will recognize patients’ injuries and illness.
Their main responsibilities are CAT scans, take X-rays, PET scans. Apart from this, prepare x-ray procedures for the patients. They are also responsible for managing x-ray, organizing and maintaining patient records and manage radiological equipment.
Their main responsibility is operating cardiac imaging equipment and diagnoses the heart muscle and surrounding part of the heart to determine heart and blood vessel problems. To pursue a career in cardiovascular, technician is required having an associate degree in the field or extra training and a certificate require after earning an associate degree in the medical field.
Their responsibility is similar to cardiac technicians but not requires that much specialization and also not only focus on the heart. Vascular technology is also used to examine how a patient’s blood & oxygen flow through patients’ body and determine the abnormalities in blood circulation in veins and arteries.
Education Requirements for Sonographers
There are various levels and specializations for ultrasound technicians starting as an associate, to a bachelor’s, to a master’s and after that. Here, we are providing basic information about degree programs so you can consider which area you should consider for specialization and certification.
Prerequisites for a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Degree
To pursue a career as Ultrasound technicians with an associate degree, you require submitting an official high school transcript or official GED scores. Few programs also request for SAT or ACT scores. There are some of the programs that will ask for a recommendation letter or references. For pursuing a bachelor’s degree which enable you to make entry into medical imaging program require completion of general education requirements, pre-admission math and science courses with having minimum GPA of 2.5. For pursuing a master’s degree, you should require completion of a bachelor’s degree successfully, GRE or MCAT scores and an official transcript from an accredited institution.
Associate Degree in Ultrasound imaging
To pursue a career in medical imaging, a student requires two year associate degree through that you can get a license of medical imaging. There are numerous technology areas as mentioned above and based on your interest you can select the field of medical imaging. Every imaging process has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Irrespective of the specialty are you selecting, following program will include in your courses:
- Written and Oral communication
- Basic Physics knowledge
- Physiology and Anatomy
- Medical terminology and Radiographic
- Methods of caring for patients
- Working time of area of specialization
Basically an associate degree requires a minimum of two years of full study. In case of clinical requirements, students have to do internships, externships or practicums that can extend associate degree. While start searching college, you need to verify that the program you selected is accredited by a national accrediting agency like American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS), or Joint Review Committee in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), so you can earn handsome income after completing your associate degree.
Bachelor’s Degree in Ultrasound imaging
To pursue a career with a bachelor’s degree in medical imaging, you are required to focus on additional general classes and more science & math classes. Due to that, you will get more knowledge about observation, instruction and experience than you get in an associate degree program.
There are areas like radiology, sonography, cardiac etc. in which you can get a specialized degree. Same as an associate degree, irrespective of field you select, you need to study the science and functioning of the human body. The basic courses are as follow:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical terminology
- The science of medical imaging
- Clinical education
To get a bachelor’s degree, you will require completing minimum 120 semester credit hours that includes clinical field experience. Once you get the degree successfully, you can take the national credentialing exam in your imaging modality specialty. By earning a bachelor’s degree, you will develop different skills for yourself like problem solving, critical thinking, communication skills etc. apart from that you will get advance knowledge of your selected specialization areas. Moreover, a bachelor’s degree completed persons get a job easily.
Master’s Degree in Ultrasound imaging
As the name suggests, master’s degree gives you an opportunity to learn the advanced level of medical imaging and help you to become a leader in the field by developing skills and knowledge required for ultrasound technician. Master’s degree required to complete research and thesis component.
Based on the selection of medical imaging area, study course will vary. The students who are interested in teaching or administration will accomplish course on leadership, communication and collaboration skills while a clinical specialized student will learn the latest techniques and methods for advanced image analysis and diagnosis. Main subjects are included as follow:
- Advanced Human Anatomy
- Advanced Image Analysis
- Clinical Pharmacology
- Pathologic Pattern Recognition
- Current Topics in Medical Imaging Technology
- Clinical Internship
With the master’s degree, you will learn advanced imaging techniques, patient care and diagnostic procedures. Master’s degree is also important if you want to pursue your career to become an administrator or educator. Also you can get a job in hospitals, medical offices, manufacture and selling medical equipment companies.