One of the most common dilemnas a potential ultrasound student faces is which modality to consider. Most people considering ultrasound as a possible career choice are unaware of the different areas of specialization available to them. Thus, the main focus of this blog post is to educate the public on the possibilities in the field of sonography. In an effort to keep this particular post as short and concise as possible, as to not be boring, I will publish a series of THREE blog posts on the subject of the specialties and modalities available. So, be sure to visit our blog for the upcoming posts.
First of all, it is not necessary to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (DMS) prior to choosing a specialty. There seems to be a misconception that one must receive General Ultrasound training before completing the training for a specialized area; this is not so. However, it is the decision of the trainee as to the length of training willing to persue. With that in mind, it is possible to seek – for example, training in Echocardiography without receiving certification in another modality, first.
The areas of specialization being discussed in this post are:
- Abdominal and Small Parts – these sonographers produce images of organs or organ systems within the abdominal cavity of the patient. The abdominal cavity includes: liver, biliary system, spleen, pancreas, urinary system, breast, thyroid, great vessels, and male reproductive system. The images that are produced assist physicians in diagnosing and treating certain diseases and disorders.
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) – the female reproductive system is the focus of the images made by these sonographers. Naturally, the most common association of ultrasound imaging is that of a pregnant woman where the doctor monitors the growth and health of the fetus.
- Breast Sonography – one of the tools used to fight breast cancer. Tumors are often detected by using ultrasound images of the breast tissue and blood supply. Mammography is often coupled with mammography.
- Neurosonography – sonographers produce ultrasound images of the nervous system which includes the brain. It is common for Neurosonographers to work in neonatal care which includes diagnosing and studying the conditions of the neurological and nervous system of premature infants.
It is a fact that sonographers who are registered in more than one modality strengthen their marketability; therefore, resulting in increased salaries. While working at just one facility – such as a hospital- may be attractive to some, it is possible for sonographers to seek employment with an additional facility – such as a private practice – using another specialty. For example, if you are employed as a full-time Echo Tech at a hospital and are also registered as a Vascular Tech, you may choose to work for a private practice on a part-time basis or even weekend “call” basis. This is just one example of using multiple modality certifications to advance career and earnings potential.
The credentials associated with the above modalities (others will be mentioned in upcoming series posts) provided by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) are:
- RDMS – Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
For the next modality to be discussed in this series, be sure to visit our blog next week.
(Please view our previous posts such as “The Truth: Accredited v. Non-accredited” )