Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, use special imaging equipment that uses focused sound waves to create images of the internal structures of a patient’s body. This procedure is commonly referred to as a sonogram, ultrasound or echocardiogram. The ultrasound can be used to diagnose a variety of medical conditions and is also used to assess the health and development of a pregnancy.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Options
Colleges and universities offer a range of educational and degree options in ultrasound science or sonography. For nurses who already have a bachelor’s degree and are working in the health care field, some schools offer a one-year certificate program. For students just coming out of high school, many colleges and universities offer associate and bachelor’s degree programs, which take either two or four years to complete. Some employers may want applicants to have a professional certification, which can be obtained by taking a licensing exam after completing a degree program.
Ultrasound technicians work with highly advanced equipment that requires a strong technical knowledge to operate. A good education in mathematics is useful in learning to use the ultrasound machine and be comfortable explaining it to patients. Most degree programs in sonography require at least a course in college algebra. Topics include linear and quadratic equations, rational numbers, absolute value, polynomial equations and complex numbers. Students in high school can prepare for these topics by taking algebra 1 and 2 as well as pre-calculus.
A substantial element of the job of an ultrasound technician is to identify and explain to the patient the parts of their body that are being represented on the screen. This requires a strong knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Degree programs for ultrasound technicians require multiple classes in anatomy and physiology, including cross-sectional anatomy for ultrasonography. Students in high school can begin preparing for these anatomy classes by taking the biology classes that are available to them. High school biology covers topics like cellular structures, vertebrate anatomy and physiology, ecology and human development. Students can also take an advanced placement biology class to get college credit.
The operation of the ultrasound technology depends upon the physics of sound waves. Most degree programs require students to take a basic physics class as well as specific classes in the physics of ultrasounds. Not only does this help technicians understand the operation of the machine, but it also helps them to explain it to the patient. High school students can prepare for these physics courses by taking basic physics classes that cover topics like motion, force, work and energy, waves, optics, heat and electricity. Students can also take an advanced placement physics course, if available, that may be transferable for college credit.
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