A diagnostic medical sonographer is a highly-skilled professional who uses specialized equipment to create images of structures inside the human body that are used by physicians to make a medical diagnosis. The process involves placing a small device called a transducer against the patient's skin near the body area to be imaged. The transducer works like a loudspeaker and microphone because it can transmit sound and receive sound. The transducer sends a stream of high frequency sound waves into the body that bounce off the structures inside. The transducer detects sound waves as they bounce off the internal structures. Different structures in the body reflect these sound waves differently. These sounds are analyzed by a computer to make an image of the structure(s) on a television screen or that can be recorded on videotape.
Sonographers have extensive, direct patient contact that may include performing some invasive procedures. They must be able to interact compassionately and effectively with people who range from healthy to critically ill.
The professional responsibilities include, but are not limited, to:
- obtaining and recording an accurate patient history
- performing diagnostic procedures and obtaining diagnostic images
- analyzing technical information
- using independent judgement in recognizing the need to extend the scope of the procedure according to the diagnostic findings
- providing an oral or written summary of the technical findings to the physician for medical diagnosis
- providing quality patient care
- collaborating with physicians and other members of the health care team.
Sonographers must also be knowledgeable about and limit the risk from possible exposure to blood and body fluids. Many sonographers also assist in electronic and clerical scheduling, record keeping, and computerized image archiving. Sonographers may also have managerial or supervisory responsibilities.