What is an Ultrasound Technician?
An ultrasound technician, sometimes called a diagnostic medical sonographer, is a vital player in diagnosis and patient care. Using high frequency sound waves, ultrasound technicians are able to provide images of the inside of a person’s body. Ultrasound technicians can specialize in obstetrics and gynecology sonography (female reproductive organs), abdominal sonography (liver, kidney, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas), neurosonography (brain and nervous system), and breast sonography, among other specializations. The images an ultrasound technician takes are examined by physicians, who can use them to diagnose a patient or eliminate a suspected diagnosis.
Job Description in Oregon
In Oregon, ultrasound technicians prepare patients for their ultrasound by explaining the process, helping them onto the table, and applying gel before the procedure. While performing the ultrasound, technicians communicate with the patient and help maintain their comfort during the process. They also ensure that the equipment is giving clear, usable images and make adjustments to equipment as necessary. When the ultrasound is over, ultrasound technicians analyze the images looking for indications of health and summarize their findings for the physician. Even after their findings are sent, technicians keep records of their patients for future reference.
Because ultrasound technicians work directly with patients, often during times of emotional highs or lows, good people skills are a must for those in this field. Ultrasound technicians are one part of a larger diagnosis team, and therefore technicians must work well with others. They must also have good critical thinking skills and attention to detail in order to perform and analyze ultrasounds. Things can change quickly in an appointment, and ultrasound technicians must be able to perform well under pressure. This job sometimes requires long hours, many of which are spent on their feet, and technicians must be able to meet these and other physical demands of the job.
Education and Training
Because ultrasound technicians work in the health and medical field, special training is required. Ultrasound technicians should have a background in several fields, ranging from basics like math and psychology, to more technical classes such as medical terminology or sonographic pathology. These classes will leave graduates prepared for jobs as ultrasound technician. People who want to be ultrasound technicians should get an associates or bachelor’s degree in the field, which will provide them with the proper education to get certified as an ultrasound technician. In Oregon, the only school with an accredited program is the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT).
Length of Training
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at the OIT is a 4-year program resulting in a Bachelor’s degree. As well as offering their full program on-campus in Klamath Falls, registered sonographers looking to advance their careers can complete their degree online through OIT.
In order to get jobs ultrasound technicians must be certified through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or any other sonography organization, such as the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (SDMS) or the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM). In order to be certified, hopeful ultrasound techs must pass a board exam, which an accredited ultrasound technician program will prepare them for. Upon passing the board exams, ultrasound technicians are ready to enter the workforce. OIT has a regionally accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography program that is recognized by the ARDMS, allowing students to sit for the board exams upon graduation.
Continuing education requirements depend on the sonography organization a technician is certified through. The ARDMS, which certifies graduates of OIT, requires 30 continuing medical education credits, or CMEs, every three years in order to maintain certification.
Ultrasound Technician Salary in Oregon
The median national salary for an ultrasound technician sits at about $75,085. In Oregon, the median pay is $76,570, with highest paying jobs being in the Beaverton (Portland Metro), where annual income is about $89,292. In more rural areas of the state salary decreases, the state low being an annual income of $70,538 in Medford, Oregon.