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What is an Ultrasound Tech?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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An ultrasound tech or sonographer is a medical professional who has received special training so that he or she can operate an ultrasound machine and create formal reports on ultrasound imaging studies. The technician can conduct ultrasounds which are used by a doctor to diagnose a patient or monitor an existing condition. Employment prospects in this field tend to be quite good, as ultrasound is a heavily used form of medical imaging, and in the case of ultrasound techs who have specialized training in a particular type of ultrasound imaging, salary and benefits can be quite good.

In other to become an ultrasound tech, someone must attend a one to two year program which offers training in sonography. The program includes practical clinic experience, a discussion of how ultrasound works, and anatomy classes in which students learn about the details of the human body. Upon graduation, students can sit for certification exams which will allow them to practice as ultrasound techs. People who are interested in a career as an ultrasound tech should make sure to attend a school which has been accredited.

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Many ultrasound techs have generalized training which allows them to perform ultrasound imaging on a wide variety of patients. Some may choose to receive special certifications in things like obstetrical ultrasound or echocardiography. The more additional certifications a technician has, the more employable he or she will be. Many ultrasound techs belong to professional organizations, and they may attend periodic lectures, workshops, and conferences to keep up with the latest developments in the field.

Ultrasound technicians are not doctors, and they are not allowed to make diagnoses or offer medical advice. They help patients prepare for the test, explain what is going to happen, and then perform the ultrasound study. An ultrasound tech is allowed to answer basic questions relating to anatomy, but he or she cannot offer opinions on what is being seen.

Once the test is finished, the ultrasound tech writes up a summary of the findings and submits them to a doctor, along with still images from the imaging study. Experienced ultrasound techs often gain a great deal of knowledge over the course of their careers, and they often have valuable insights into the imaging study and the implications of some of the things seen on the screen. After reviewing the summary of findings, the doctor can meet with the patient to discuss the patient's condition and the implications of the imaging study.

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