Being certified as an ultrasound technician allows you to work in an obstetrician and gynecologist, or OB/GYN, office setting. You use your training to take internal pictures of the female reproductive system and view babies while still in the womb. The physician, or OB/GYN, depends on your work to help diagnose medical problems and help him determine if the fetus is healthy and growing properly.
Before entering an ultrasound or sonography technician program you must meet certain requirements. Generally, you must have a high school or general education diploma. Some programs require you to pass an entrance exam while others require a minimum score on a standardized college readiness exam, such as the ACT.
One degree in medical sonography covers every type of ultrasound technology, including OB/GYN. However, there are three basic types of ultrasound tech certifications. They include a two-year associate’s degree, a one-year certificate program and the less common bachelor’s degree. Generally, you must have a separate degree in the medical field or previous college courses to complete a one-year program.
Since completing an ultrasound program qualifies you to work for an OB/GYN, you have the option to pick the program that works best for you and your schedule. Regardless of the program, the basic coursework for an ultrasound technician is similar. It generally includes basic courses, such as English and math, and course specific classes including anatomy and physiology, ultrasound physics and obstetrics, according to the Education Portal website. In addition to course work, you can expect to attend clinicals or on-site learning and training in facilities such as doctor’s offices or hospitals.
What You Can Do with Training
Sonography, or ultrasound, is the use of sound waves to generate an image for the assessment and diagnosis of various medical conditions. In working for an OB/GYN, you use ultrasound images during a woman's pregnancy or when an issue with the reproductive system is suspected. The direct non-ionizing, high frequency sound waves reflect, echo and form images of the internal reproductive system and developing baby that may be videotaped, transmitted and photographed for interpretation and diagnosis by a physician. The images are used to determine how far along in a pregnancy an expectant mother may be or what may be causing abdominal discomfort, such as fluid or a tumor.
An ultrasound tech in a OB/GYN office typically works a five-day week. Weekend shifts and overtime are uncommon. Working in an OB/GYN setting is rewarding in many ways. For instance, you get to enjoy the experience of the growth of the fetus with expectant mothers who are happy. On the other hand, not every expectant mother is excited about the experience. Also, some diagnoses made through ultrasound in an OB/GYN setting are not positive, such as ovarian and uterine cancer and possible birth defects or fetal abnormalities.