My Education: BS, Rehabilitation Counseling certification, Medical Sonography
My Prior Experience: I worked first in human services and it got me interested in a medical career.
My Company: I work for a large regional hospital south of Boston.
Job/Career Overview: My job entails taking a series of anatomical pictures using medical sonography equipment. These images are used by physicians to diagnose disease in sick patients. The range of areas the use ultrasound is very broad; and includes fetal medicine, abdominal ultrasound, musculo-skeletal, neurology, vascular and cardiology.
Ultrasound requires close contact with sick patients of all ages. Work schedules vary greatly and shifts can be daytime or night. Weekends and holidays are also required in many jobs. Learning is always part of the job since anatomy and physiology are so complex. There may be illness that you only see once in a lifetime. Working closely with radiologists is an integral part of the job. Taking care or people during a visit for pain and suffering, helping to find what is wrong with them is extremely rewarding. The job requires a great deal of "people skills." The pay is good and the flexibility of working various shifts in a hospital is also great when you are raising a family.
More Insights: One misconception about ultrasound is that it is primarily used for pregnancy surveys. Although this is a major component, there are many new areas of specialty such as breast and musculo-skeletal work. Sonographers can scan newborn's brains or people's thyroid glands or appendix. The work continues to expand.
I rate this career 10 out of 10.
The worst part of being an ultrasound technologist is finding a life-threatening illness in a patient who is in generally good health. You may see a cancer that you know will take a patient's life in two or three months and the patient has no idea. It takes a great deal of compassion and professionalism to handle these difficult situations. The best part of the job is when you've done your job well and find a solution to a patient's health problem that will make her better. It's very rewarding to help these patients both physically and emotionally.
Find an accredited medical sonography program that is at least two years. Be sure the program has internships set up in hospitals, since this is where you will see the most pathology. Be prepared. You will most likely need at least an associate's degree in a related field that includes biology and anatomy and physiology. You will have to take a difficult physics component in your coursework and pass certificate exams. Exams include physics and the specialty areas such as obstetrics or abdomen ultrasound.