Sonography is a medical imaging technique that uses specialized equipment that emits high-frequency sound waves in order to create images of the inside of the body. It can be used as a diagnostic tool as well as a tool to help guide procedures such as biopsies and drainages. Perhaps best known for its obstetric use, ultrasonography is a valuable and fast growing technology in the health care industry.
Ultrasound technicians perform sonogram scans that are later interpreted by the patient’s doctor. An ultrasound technician’s job includes explaining the procedure to the patient, taking a medical history, selecting the correct equipment and settings, positioning the patient, performing the examination and assessing image quality which is important for accurate diagnosis. Ultrasound technicians must have in-depth knowledge of physiology, cross-sectional anatomy, disease processes and the care and maintenance of the sophisticated equipment that is used.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2010 the median annual wage for a diagnostic medical sonographer was $64,380 per year, $30.95 per hour. The job outlook for Ultrasound Technicians is excellent, employment in this field is expected to increase by 44 percent from 2010 by 2020, a pace that is considered by the Bureau as much faster than average.
To become a diagnostic medical sonographer, you will need an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate, possibly also a professional certification. In Arizona you have many options to obtain the education necessary for a new career as an ultrasound technician.
GateWay Community College in Phoenix offers an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, as well as a Certificate of Completion in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Both of which are designed for students who have decided to seek certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (A.R.D.M.S.).
For those who are already in the health care profession, Central Arizona College in Coolidge has a Sonography Program. To be considered for the program you must first take the DMS 101 Intro to Sonography Class, offered every Spring semester.
Carrington College’s Mesa campus offers a Diagnostic Medical Sonography certificate program. At the end of the 15 month long program, you will receive a Certificate of Achievement in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, preparing you to take your certification and licensure exams.
PIMA Medical Institute offers a certificate program in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The program is about 1 year and 5 months long. In order to be eligible for admission into the program, you must either have a bachelors degree in any field or have graduated from a 2 year allied health education program that is related to patient-care and pass admission testing requirements. The Institute offers general education classes in Anatomy & Physiology, Communications, Math and Physics which must be completed before you can be accepted into the program.