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Ultrasonographer (Sonographer)

Job Description

After the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in 1912, scientists researched ways to find underwater icebergs. During this time, SONAR (sound navigation and ranging) which uses ultrasound, was developed. Ultrasound waves sent to the part of the body being examined are reflected, refracted, or absorbed at the interfaces inside the body. Echoes that return in this way carry information about the size, distance, and uniformity of internal organs. This is displayed on a monitor to create an ultrasound image.

Ultrasonographers (sonographers) send high-frequency sound waves into the person's body to create images of organs. The images are used to monitor pregnancies, and help in the diagnosis of heart problems, and brain disorders, to name a few examples.

Ultrasonographers have extensive, direct patient contact and collaborate with doctors and other team members.

Interesting Facts

  • The advantages of untrasonography as a procedure are many. It is safe, painless, easy, fast and involves no radiation.
  • In 2003, Nova Scotia had 99 health care workers practicing sonography. 93% were working in hospitals.

Working Conditions

Most ultrasonographers work in treatment rooms in hospitals or private clinics. They work closely with patients who range from healthy to critically ill. They work as part of a team of professionals. Most work 40 hours a week, often on a shift basis.

Earnings

$42,000 - $50,000 per year

Requirements

(a) Personal Characteristics

Ultrasonographers have extensive, direct patient contact and must be able to interact compassionately and effectively with patients who range from healthy to critically ill. They work as part of a health care team. They have strong organizational skills and solid technical skills.

(b) High School

A high school diploma with an emphasis on English, math, physics and biology is key. Computer courses and chemistry are also highly recommended. Admission requirements for post-secondary should be checked carefully.

(c) Post Secondary

Some colleges/universities offer direct entry untrasonography programs. At Dalhousie University, Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound is a four year degree program with a diploma exit possible after completion of year three. That is, you can enter the program right after high school. Other schools offer post diploma programs for those who have completed training in a related field. For example, after becoming a radiological technologist, a one year post-diploma program is available for ultrasonographers.

(d) Certification

Currently there are no Canadian national ultrasound examinations; a Canadian certification process is being developed. Successful completion of the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) is a requirement to practice. There is a Canadian Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (CSDMS) and the Canadian Association of Registered Diagnostic Ultrasound Professionals (CARDUP). There is a Nova Scotia Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (NSSDMS)

Future Prospects

Job opportunities are many and varied ranging form hospital/clinic settings to education, industry, and research.

Related Jobs

  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Radiological Technologist
  • Respiratory Therapist

Resources

What Can I do Now?

  • Explore websites
  • Interview/job shadow an ultrasonographer in your local area
  • Have an ultrasonographer come to your class/school
  • Choose the high school subjects needed to start your path to this career. Aim to achieve high grades.
  • Volunteer in health related professions.
  • Pharmacists
  • Continuing Care Assistants

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2007-Nov-05.

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