FAQs About Ultrasound Technologists

1. What are an ultrasound technologist’s job duties?

An ultrasound technologist works in a hospital or clinic. He or she operates highly sophisticated imaging equipment to capture images of the human body. These images are used to diagnose a number of medical conditions and diseases.

The technologist uses a hand-held device called a transducer to facilitate this process. It is positioned next to the patient’s skin in the area being examined using the ultrasound equipment. The transducer sends out high-frequency sound waves into the body, which are then echoed back to the unit. The echoes are analyzed by specialized computer software to generate an image of the structure, which is then displayed on a monitor.

The average ultrasound scan takes between 20-40 minutes to complete. During that time, the ultrasound technologist moves the transducer so that he or she can capture the required images for a doctor to interpret. Between 20-30 images are recorded during a typical exam.

The job involves interacting with patients directly, and some of the required procedures may be invasive. The ultrasound technologist must have the empathy required to interact with patients from a variety of backgrounds, including some who are critically ill or have been injured.

Other duties that an ultrasound technologist may be expected to perform include the following:

  • Obtaining a patient’s history and recording the same
  • Performing diagnostic procedures
  • Analyzing technical information
  • Using his or her own judgment to recognize circumstances where the scope of the procedure must be extended according to the information discovered in the images taken during the examination
  • Discussing test results with physicians and other heath care providers
  • Scheduling appointments, updating and keeping records
  • Some positions may involve managing the imaging department or supervising other staff members

2. What technical standards are required of ultrasound technicians?

To perform the duties associated with the job, an ultrasound technician must be able to perform the following:

  • Lift more than 50 lbs.
  • Push and pull regularly
  • Bend and stoop
  • Has use his or her hands, wrists and shoulders
  • Distinguish sounds
  • View sonograms, including distinctions in color
  • Work standing up approximately 80 percent of the time
  • Interact with sick or injured patients
  • Assist patients to get on and off the examining table
  • Communicate with patients, as well as other staff members
  • Perform the steps to perform ultrasound examinations on patients in the right sequence

3. What personal characteristics are required for success as an ultrasound technologist?

Personal characteristics that are important for success as an ultrasound technologist include having an eye for detail. Good critical thinking and analytical skills are also important. They must also have excellent eye to hand coordination. Superior spatial reasoning skills are also required.

Since this job also involves patient care, it’s important for a person to have very good communication skills. These skills will also be helpful when interacting with coworkers and supervisors on the job.

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