An ultrasonography technician, also often called an ultrasound tech, operates ultrasound equipment. Ultrasound machines use high-frequency sound waves to create a picture on a screen, allowing the ultrasonography tech to detect cancer, an unborn baby or a range of internal problems that are not visible from outside the body. Ultrasound technicians have to operate the equipment correctly so the results are accurate, and they also have to record what they see so the doctor can diagnose the problem. In addition, they are expected to work well with others, in part to make patients feel comfortable during the appointment.
One of the most important tasks for an ultrasonography technician is to use the equipment properly. This means technicians are expected to apply gel to the patient's body part that is to be checked and then place the probe in the correct area so an accurate image is obtained. They need to know how long to keep the probe on the skin's surface to get a result, and where to look on the screen so they are aware of when the ultrasound is over. Additionally, it is often the job of the ultrasonography technician to keep the equipment clean and in working order, which is why it is important to know how the machine works.
Another job for the average ultrasonography technician is making notes for the doctor. Most technicians are expected to put patient information into the computer before getting an image on the screen, because this helps keep any results associated with the correct patient. Though the doctor will make the actual diagnosis, ultrasonography technicians need to have an idea of the difference between normal and abnormal results, so they can make a note of it during the appointment. In addition, ultrasound technicians can expect to file some paperwork nearly every day, as is common with most medical positions.
It is important for ultrasound technicians to be comfortable meeting new people daily, because they will be expected to interact with patients during the exam. The average ultrasonography technician will need to offer instructions to patients, explaining how the appointment will go and making them feel comfortable. In many cases, the ultrasonography technician will be the first person around when the patient gets life-changing news, such as a serious medical condition, pregnancy or miscarriage. Therefore, those interested in medical ultrasonography should be prepared to deal with a range of emotions from patients each day.