These healthcare technicians provide essential images to help diagnose a patient’s heart health
If you’re considering a career in healthcare, then you may want to investigate sonography. One option is training as a cardiovascular sonographer, which can enhance your career options. Also known as echocardiography (echo), this technology enables a cardiovascular sonographer to provide critical visual information about a patient’s heart—the size, shape, function, and the blood flow—which cardiologists rely upon to diagnose heart disease and determine appropriate treatments.
So, what does a typical day entail in this career field? We created this post to help you understand some of the duties and responsibilities you’re likely to find on the job. Let’s assume, like most cardiovascular sonographers (or echocardiology technicians) you work in a hospital, within the imaging department:
Arrive at work
After taking off your coat and setting down your morning coffee, you begin to review the patients that cardiologists have scheduled today for an ultrasound (echo). You review the charts for today’s six patients, and you expect that many will be nervous about the procedure. You hope that today’s patients will arrive on time, because this helps you to stay on schedule and enables you to devote at least a little time to helping each patient feel calm and comfortable before the echo.
You ensure that the sonography equipment you’ll be using is ready, and that the imaging rooms are equipped and prepared for patients. Next, you meet with each patient and explain the procedure, gently and clearly, so that each patient is prepared for the exam. You review each patient’s vitals and then guide them to the imaging room. The cardiologist will likely provide some direction about the kind of images you’ll need to obtain. Keeping your patients calm throughout the procedure is important, so you can obtain accurate images that the physician has requested. Then you’ll use cardiac ultrasound technology and Doppler technology, as needed, to create echocardiograms that can detect vital information about the patient’s heart.
Emergency Room calls
You may be called by an emergency room doctor to perform an ultrasound for a patient suspected to have had an aneurysm. Since the patient is not stable and cannot be transported to the imaging department, you must transport the ultrasound equipment to the patient in the ER exam room. You perform the ultrasound and then call into the cardiologist, who examines the results, consults with the doctor in the ER, and confirms whether the patient requires immediate surgery. This is fast-paced work, and you do your best to accommodate and assist the nurses and doctors who must make quick decisions to save lives.
Cardiac ultrasounds can be frightening for patients who may be facing the diagnosis of heart disease, so being calm and confident is a huge asset in this position. It can be a highly gratifying job, given that the echocardiograms you perform can help cardiologists, doctors, and nurses to lengthen and even save lives. If you’re interested in learning more about this a critical role in health care, read about some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a cardiovascular sonographer.
At the American College for Medical Careers, we offer a range of sonography training programs, including Cardiovascular Sonography, Diagnostic Sonography, and our Sonography Bridge Program. Discover more professional training programs, and visit us online for more information.