Sonographers are also called ultrasound technologists or Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. Their primary responsibilities are to produce ultrasound images using specialized medical equipment and analyzing the images for pathological issues. Many people are familiar with ultrasound technology because it is commonly used as a noninvasive procedure to assess fetal health before birth. However, it is actually used for many other purposes, such as assessing the cardiovascular system, and organ or tissue health. The Psychiatric Technician provides a range of service for people who have a mental illness or mental disability. They carry out physician instructions by providing patient rehabilitative services, managing treatments, administering medications and assisting with personal hygiene care.
Table of Content
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Duties
- What does a Psychiatric Technician Do?
- Comparing Their Salaries
- Differences in Training Requirements?
- Pros and Cons of Each Healthcare Career
What does a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Do?
The Diagnostic Medical Sonographer is a healthcare professional who uses high tech ultrasound medical equipment to produce images from sound waves. The sonographer analyzes the images and provides results to the patient’s physician, contributing to the information needed for medical diagnosing. On a typical day, the ultrasound technologist may perform any of the following tasks:
- Update the patient’s medical history to ensure it reflects accurate information
- Maintain ultrasound equipment and determine when repairs are required
- Assist patient with positioning the body to get the best images
- Make decisions concerning images needed to best assist physician in assessing patient health or condition
- Obtain diagnostic images by skillfully using ultrasound equipment
- Assess diagnostic images
- Determine if scope of imaging needs expansion based on diagnostic assessment
- Update medical records with technical findings
- Perform departmental administrative duties as necessary, like scheduling exams
- Perform medical procedures, such as measuring vital signs and administering emergency treatments
- Regularly interact with healthcare facility and other healthcare personnel
What does a Psychiatric Technician Do?
Psychiatric Technicians are trained professionals who assist mentally ill or emotionally disturbed patients. It requires working under the direction of a physician and in collaboration with a variety of healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, rehabilitation therapists, and registered nurses. This position is often instrumental in helping people rehabilitate to the point where they can return to their communities.
The typical daily tasks of this healthcare specialist include the following:
- Following physician instructions, provide psychiatric, hygiene, and basic nursing care
- Monitor the emotional, mental and physical well-being of patients and determine the appropriate information is provided to medical personnel
- Work closely with each patient to help the person improve through instruction and counseling
- Promote patient participation in recreational and social or therapeutic activities and groups
- Use basic medical equipment to monitor vital statistics
- Administer medications as ordered by the doctor
- Use judgment to determine how to adapt and teach rehabilitation strategies in a way that most benefits the patient
- Assist patients as necessary with hygiene tasks and with keeping living areas clean
- Use patient restraints when needed to protect other patients and caregivers
- Talk to patients in a way that promotes well-being and emotional calm
- Lead group therapy sessions
- Maintain medical records
Do Sonographers Earn Much More Than Psychiatric Technicians?
The Diagnostic Medical Sonographer can earn an excellent income. Though the rates vary from state to state and city to city, the national average annual salary as of May 2016 was $71,750. This is twice as much as the average annual salary of $35,870 for Psychiatric Technicians. The top ten percent of sonographers earn $99,100, while the top Psychiatric Technicians earn $59,960.
What are Differences in Training Requirements?
There is a variety of Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs to choose from that lead to a certificate, Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree. Programs can take from one to four years and are offered by colleges, universities, vocational schools and medical centers. The best sonography programs are those accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP). These programs have instructional and clinical components and fully prepare students to take the ARDMS exams.
The Psychiatric Technician most often earns a postsecondary certificate or Associate’s degree at a technical school or community college. The programs take anywhere from one semester to two years. The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians offers four certification levels.
Pros and Cons of Each Career
Deciding between the two healthcare positions requires some careful thought. Though both are healthcare professions, their job duties are quite different.
The advantages of choosing Diagnostic Medical Sonography as a career include the following:
- Requires regular use of sophisticated ultrasound equipment
- No radiation exposure and limited exposure to other chemicals
- Works independently to meet patient and physician needs
- Job growth is expected in all areas of the country
- Can specialize in one or more disciplines like abdominal or obstetrical sonography
- High rate of pay
- Career advancement opportunities include moving into a position as a department head or pursuing a position in research, education, general administration, sales or technical advising
The disadvantages of becoming a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer are as follows:
- Potential exposure to patient diseases
- May have to work irregular hours or be on call which can make personal planning difficult
- Must stand 80 percent of the work time
- Requires regular physical labor associated with assisting patients on and off the examination table and shuttling patients between locations
- High musculoskeletal injury rates
The advantages of becoming a Psychiatric Assistant include the following:
- Provides good foundation for pursuing career advancement through additional training in areas like practical nursing or social work
- Varied and interesting work
- Can work in a wide variety of settings that include traditional healthcare facilities like hospitals and clinics, jails and prisons, geriatric facilities, outpatient treatment centers, residential care homes, and many others
The disadvantages of becoming a Psychiatric Assistant include the following:
- Usually works 40 hours a week and may be required to work day, swing or evening shifts
- May require working holidays and weekends
- Job can be personally mentally and emotionally difficult to manage
- Must stand most of the time
- Job requires physical labor that includes assisting or restraining patients
- Career advancement opportunities are limited without additional training
- High rates of injuries
Four states including New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota and Oregon require the Diagnostic Medical Sonographer to be licensed and four states including Arkansas, California, Colorado and Kansas require the Psychiatric Technician to be licensed. Not everyone has the patience or skills to effectively work with mentally or emotionally ill persons. Ultrasound technology is an excellent career choice for those who want to work in the healthcare industry and enjoy working with a variety of people, managing high tech equipment, and doing work requiring critical thinking and problem solving.