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A Day in the Life of a Diagnostic Sonographer

Apr 08, 2010

So you’re considering a career as a diagnostic sonographer, but before you commit to anything you want to know what a day on the job entails.

As a diagnostic sonographer you will conduct ultrasound scans on patients. Your job will be to take “pictures” or diagnostic images of various parts of the anatomy to identify medical issues and afflictions. You will also scan pregnant woman to see how their fetus is developing. On an average day you will need to fit in about 15-20 ultrasounds, but this may be more or less depending on the schedule, time of day, and emergency situations.

Most diagnostic sonographers are employed at hospitals or health centers, and as such start pretty early in the morning, somewhere between 7 and 8 am. When you arrive at work, you check your schedule for the day and pick up the charts for your first scheduled patient. The chart will detail your patient’s medical history and indicate where you should be scanning and what you should be looking for. Before beginning your first scan you will check that the ultrasound machine is calibrated and working properly. Then you can get your patient and bring them in.

You will take a few minutes to talk to the patient about the procedure, and reassure them that it is completely safe and non-invasive. The patient will be wearing a gown, and you take a few moments to arrange a sheet in such a way as to give them privacy while exposing the area that needs to be scanned.

During the scan you will talk to the patient so they know what you are doing. You are permitted to show them on the screen what parts of the body you are scanning, but you are under no circumstances allowed to tell them about a diagnosis. The radiologist or physician who manages the radiology department is responsible for discussing this with the patient. Once you have completed the ultrasound, you will complete any notes you need to take and then you will hand the results and the charts back to the radiology desk before you get your next patient.

A significant amount of your scans will be performed on pregnant women. These women may be newly pregnant, about to deliver, or somewhere in between. The primary purpose of these scans is to assess the health and development of the baby, but at the same time you can show them the baby’s little parts – as long as you don’t make any indication of the baby’s health.

During a standard fetal sonogram you will take pictures of different parts of the baby to indicate normal development, and you will take specific measurements to assess the age and due date of the baby. Parents can also have a few print outs to take home and they can hear the heart beat. On the medical chart you note any additional observations, and then all information is given to the department desk. You will pass the information on to the physician, who will then talk to the patient.

Diagnostic sonography can be a challenging and rewarding career, and can give you new opportunities to learn and help others. With just a few years of training you can become a diagnostic sonographer and have a great career, while earning a pretty good salary. Plus you get to help people every single day. Don’t let a great opportunity for a great career pass you by. Take the next step by finding out how to become a diagnostic sonographer and you’ll be on the road to a fun and fabulous career.

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