Diagnostic Medical Sonographers


Exploring this Job

Although it is impossible for you to gain direct experience in sonography without proper education and certification, you can gain insight into duties and responsibilities by speaking directly to an experienced sonographer. You can visit a hospital, health maintenance organization, or other locations to view the equipment and facilities used and to watch professionals at work. You may also consider contacting teachers at schools of diagnostic medical sonography or touring their educational facilities. School counselors or science teachers may also be able to arrange a presentation by a sonographer.

The Job

Sonographers are responsible for the proper selection and preparation of the ultrasound equipment for each specific exam. They are supervised by a physician or radiologist. Sonographers explain the procedure to patients, recording any additional pertinent information, and assist patients in the proper physical position so that the test may begin.

When the patient is properly aligned, the sonographer applies a gel to the skin that improves the diagnostic image. The sonographer selects the transducer, a microphone-shaped device that directs high-frequency sound waves into the area to be imaged, and adjusts equipment controls according to the proper depth of field and specific organ or structure to be examined. The transducer is moved as the sonographer monitors the sound wave display screen in order to ensure that a quality ultrasonic image is being produced. Sonographers must master the location and visualization of human anatomy to be able to clearly differentiate between healthy and pathological areas.

When a clear image is obtained, the sonographer activates equipment that records individual photographic views or sequences as real-time images of the affected area. These images are recorded on computer disk, magnetic tape, strip printout, film, or video. The sonographer removes the recording and prepares it for analysis by the physician. In order to be able to discuss the procedure with the physician, if asked, the sonographer may also record data or observations that occurred during the exam.

Sonographers can be trained in the following specialties: abdomen, breast, echocardiography, neurosonology, obstetrics/gynecology, ophthalmology, musculoskeletal, pediatric, and vascular technology.

Other duties include updating patient records, monitoring and adjusting sonographic equipment to maintain accuracy, and, after considerable experience, preparing work schedules and evaluating potential equipment purchases.

An advanced sonographer is a DMS who operates at a higher professional level than typical sonographers. According to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, these professionals "provide advanced level sonography services based ?on clinical competency obtained through advanced education and clinical experience. The advanced sonographer works under the authority of a supervising physician." Advanced sonographers are also known as ultrasound practitioners, advanced practice sonographers, and clinical sonography specialists.