One of the attractions of Diagnostic Medical Sonography is that sonography students can start a healthcare career with an associate degree that only takes two years to earn. However, it is important to consider more than training time before settling on sonography as a career choice. Doing research on all aspects of the training and job is important to ensuring no false assumptions are made. One of the best ways to understand how to succeed as a sonography student or professional is to listen to the advice of people already studying or working in the field.
Expected Advice for Sonography Students
Enjoying the process of training to become an ultrasound technologist means the student must enjoy studying science and math. Talk to ARDMS registered sonographers working in hospitals and clinics, and they inevitably point out that students:
- Take classes in anatomy and physiology, like sectional anatomy, which are difficult subjects
- Take math classes because math is involved in setting equipment and analyzing images
- Should only attend a CAAHEP accredited program because it prepares the student for an ARDMS board examination
- Should consider pursuing sonography specialty tracks while in the program to expand career opportunities
- Should earn ARDMS registration in one or more specialties
- Should be prepared to treat the sonography program as a full-time job that requires dedicated attention and should not plan on working in an outside job
- The level of difficulty experienced with taking ARDMS examinations depends on the level of time and effort put into the sonography course work and clinical training; less effort means more difficulty
- Though continuing education is required for maintaining ARDMS certification, learning should be voluntarily life-long as new technology and new uses for sonographic imaging constantly emerge
Many times, articles on sonography focus on minimum training requirements or typical duties of a sonographer, while avoiding sensitive subjects like intracavity exams. However, these are part of the job because ultrasound technology enables physicians to obtain non-surgical images of internal structures or systems that are not close to the body’s surface.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers also point out that sonographers do come in contact with bodily fluids ranging from vaginal blood to infant feces and even vomit. It may be tempting to think of the job as fairly sterile and involving mostly using ultrasound medical imaging equipment. Working in any healthcare setting with people who are sick or pregnant means there is always a possibility of fluid issues.
Also, in some healthcare settings, sonographer job duties may require assisting physicians with biopsies through the use of imaging. The job duties are not fixed from position to position, and that is important to know when looking for a job. A lot depends on the size and type of facility. Sonographer duties in a large hospital with the latest technology will have differences compared to the sonographer duties in a small clinic or physician practice. Though both types of positions will do imaging, the latter position is more likely also to do office related tasks that are not necessarily related to sonography.
Anyone with a “weak stomach” will need to overcome the weakness and learn to maintain professional composure no matter what happens.
The national healthcare system is undergoing a major transformation due to rising costs, the Affordable Patient Care Act and advancing technology. Sonographers have an incredible opportunity to participate in the transformation through the delivery of less expensive, non-surgical imaging procedures using sophisticated technology.
Students have personal expectations concerning training and career opportunities in sonography, but talking to people with practical experience in the sonography field is important. Contact staff at a quality sonography educational program or an association like the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) to ask for real-world information. It is an important step towards enjoying a great career as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.