Diagnostic medical ultrasound has been around for a few decades now and the number of sonographers is growing year on year as more and more doctors are turning to this non-invasive, relatively inexpensive and low risk imaging to aid in diagnosis. And while it’s not an easy modality to learn, both physically and intellectually (and yes emotionally), it’s a truly rewarding career with many benefits that go way beyond what you get in other jobs. So let’s get started.
1.Life never gets boring. Yes, we’d all rather be on a beach in Hawaii watching the ocean waves roll in. But, failing a lottery win, we all have to make our way in this world and put food on the table. But unlike some professions, ultrasound never really gets boring. On a practical level, you are never doing the same thing for a prolonged period of time as your daily scan routine is broken up with reporting, taking phone calls and liaising with other staff. Your daily routine will involve speaking to people from all different backgrounds – doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, patients, patient’s families, admin staff. In fact, the role of a sonographer involves speaking to people from all different backgrounds – doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, patients, patient’s families, admin staff.
2. Your role matters. If you don’t see it, no one does! There’s no place in ultrasound for having a cursory glance. Frequently, the pathology we look for is small and subtle and when combined with hindrances such as poor mobility, shadowing from calcification, ribs or bowel gas you need to use all of your intellectual prowess and experience to achieve the best possible diagnostic accuracy.
3. You have a superpower! Yes, you get to learn to see with sound! Being a sonographer means you are literally able to use sounds waves to see. Yes, the ultrasound machine sends and receives the mechanical sound waves but it’s the sonographer’s brain that does the ‘seeing’ and interpretation. Where patients see the sea or the moon or a dog when looking at the same images as us? We separate ‘see’ the liver adjacent to the kidney or can the normal focal fatty infiltration from an HCC. We see by making sense of the image in front of us, in real time – not retrospectively. Like shining a torchlight into a cave, we send our beam into the inner workings of the human body. To save lives. So yes, we have a superpower. And yes we save lives. By default, sonographers are superheroes.
4. You can work in a variety of settings. There’s a range of opportunities available to sonographers ranging from specialty hospitals to outpatient care centres, in training at universities and colleges and ultrasound schools. There’s also many roles available in the ultrasound sales industry which offer a different opportunities and experiences.Above average pay.
5. The money! Sonographers can earn a healthy living doing what they do. The basic salary is above average. In the US the top paying states for diagnostic medical sonographers are California and Washington where sonographers can earn in the region of $90,000 USD (careerexplorer.com). In the UK there NHS salaries go up to £43,000 but salaries can be higher in the private sector.