There are educational and training requirements for all careers so people should select the career that will be personally satisfying. Students decide to take sonography classes to become Diagnostic Medical Sonographers for different reasons. Some are interested in applying state-of-the-art medical technology for patient care, while others like the idea of working with a variety of people. One of the ideal features of ultrasound technology is that it can meet a variety of personal interests.
Career Starts with Personal Assessment
To paraphrase Socrates: A person should “know thyself.” That has never been truer when it comes to understanding personal interests, values and capabilities as they relate to career selection. In most Allied Health programs, there are specialty options and that includes ultrasound technology. Review the ARDMS credentialing exams, and it is readily apparent that a person can choose to pursue training in one or more specialties linked to Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) or pursue a specialty beyond those associated with the general Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) credential.
Every student interested in ARDMS credentialing will take the SPI exam but then has a choice of specialty exams. Students can take a special exam in abdomen, OB/GYN, fetal echocardiography, breast and/or pediatric sonography. Not every sonography student or professional pursues a credential as a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RCDS) or gets Registered in Musculoskeletal Sonography (RMSK) or becomes a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT).
How does a person decide what credential to pursue? How does a person decide to concentrate one or more ultrasound areas as a sonographer? Why is someone attracted to echocardiography sonography, while another person is fascinated by the thought of working in abdominal sonography and small parts? Why does one sonography student decide that OB/GYN is the right field, while another wants to concentrate on Doppler sonography?
What Comes Naturally
A student must “know thyself.” It is important to spend time considering natural talents, preferred work style, the medical conditions that are most interesting, the kind of working conditions that are most appealing, and the ultimate career goals. There are many career choices in the field of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and the path chosen should be personally fulfilling. Consider the following: Does the high drama of working in a surgical environment sound appealing? A good option is to pursue a career in cardiac or vascular sonography.
- Is there interest in interacting with a variety of people? The RDMS credential will enable a student to work in varied medical environments with all types of patients.
- Is focusing on the development of the state-of-the-art scanning technology the ultimate career goal? The student should earn a Master’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography in preparation to enter the research field.
- Does the student want to focus on a particular type of patient, like pregnant women or men with testicular cancer? Specializing in OB/GYN or abdomen and small parts is a good decision.
- Is the growing field of mobile sonography of interest? The student may want to earn ARDMS credentials in every specialty over time so that all diagnostic services can be delivered at remote locations.
- Does working in the new field of breast sonography sound like a good career choice? Taking all the breast sonography electives while in the program and choosing to take the ARDMS specialty exam for Breast (BR) makes sense.
- If interested in sports medicine and assisting with the diagnosis of medical issues like tendon and muscle tears or sprains, the student will want to take the ARDMS musculoskeletal sonography exam.
- Students desiring to work with seniors, a rapidly growing population segment, will also want to take the musculoskeletal sonography exam. The ultrasound procedure can be used help diagnose early signs of rheumatoid arthritis damage, hernias, joint inflammation, nerve entrapment and other medical conditions the elderly are more likely to experience.
Spend Thoughtful Time on Sonographer Career Planning
Sonographers can choose to work with infants, children, women and/or men. Some people like the bustle of a large hospital, while others would prefer to work in a small clinic or office. Though earning the RDMS credential means a sonographer is considered to have specialized in several areas, it is still important to spend thoughtful time planning the career.
For example, the sonographer may want to work in a clinic for women. To have the greatest employment opportunities, the sonographer should earn the RDMS credential and the RDCS credential which includes ultrasound specialties in breast, fetal echocardiography, OB/GYN and adult echocardiography. Making that decision while still career planning will influence the choice of sonography classes completed when able to select electives. A number of students take online ultrasound classes while working on prerequisites in preparation for starting a CAAHEP accredited sonography program. That is a great time to begin deciding how to best match career goals and objectives and training.
Taking the time to assess personality, preferred medical practice settings, the type of human medical conditions of most interest, the desired work conditions and tasks and so on will assist educational and career decision-making now and in the future. Many decisions are made while taking sonography classes, including the type of electives and the clinical training sites. The sooner the student develops a solid career goal, the sooner the person will reach it.