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An echocardiography technician is an important team member of the medical field, working in the capacity of assisting cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists and others like cardiac surgeons. Through training, this technician learns to evaluate the heart via ultrasound or echocardiogram techniques. The scans taken during echocardiography can look at the heart from a variety of perspectives to provide information about heart structure, blood flow, and any potential problems. Sometimes these technicians don’t just work with adults and children, but also perform preliminary scans on pregnant women undergoing fetal echocardiography.
The principal work of the echocardiography technician is to do preliminary scans and make a record of all points of interest that occur during those scans. Technicians generally cannot comment on the work they’re performing to patients, except in very minimal ways. For example a patient might ask: “Is that the right ventricle?” A technician could reply that it is, but wouldn’t be able to respond to a patient’s query about whether he or she saw any problems on the scan.
After the echocardiography technician has completed a preliminary scan, he usually presents findings to the cardiologist or echocardiologist. A cardiologist may perform a brief echocardiogram, too. Typically the cardiologist renders any diagnosis, or if he or she has not evaluated the echo, it would later be viewed and the patient contacted.
It takes training to become an echocardiography technician. Many programs are offered at universities or institutes specializing in sonography or cardiology tech training of a variety of types. Technicians learn to use the sonography equipment and interpret its readings, and they must take courses in medical terminology and anatomical structure. In many regions, people take an exam when they’ve finished classes, and they may need several months to up to a year of practical training before getting a license, which isn’t always required but is frequently preferred.
A number of regions have several different training types for the echocardiography technician or technologist. Some programs result in a bachelor’s degree and an easier path to licensing. Others will earn the student an associate of arts degree. Salary is usually higher for those with more advanced degrees.
There are different work settings for the echocardiography technician. These workers are needed in hospitals where many echocardiograms are performed each day. Cardiology offices also have work for these individuals, and other potential work locations could include surgical centers and psychiatric hospitals.
Some technicians work for pediatric cardiologists and will particularly specialize in performing echoes on children and fetuses. This can be more challenging work because children may have a harder time staying still, and young babies who receive echoes may frequently be upset by them, though they aren’t typically painful. Technicians wanting to work in this area should be particularly familiar with heart defects and should work well with children.
In places like the US, there is predicted growth in this field. Increased demand is good news for the echocardiography technician. Median pay for technicians varies, and is highly dependent on region.