What Makes an Effective Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

These qualities will help you succeed in this essential healthcare role

Diagnostic medical sonographers are healthcare technicians who perform ultrasounds. They prepare a patient for the procedure, and also help physicians to analyze the results of the test. In this way diagnostic medical sonographers provide essential input and are a valued member of a healthcare team.

There are some qualities that will help you to succeed in this career path—and many of them are things you can work on and develop over time. A diagnostic medical sonography training program like the one at the American College for Medical Careers can guide you in preparing for the demands of the profession.

If you decide to choose this career path, here are some qualities to keep in mind that would serve you well on the job:

Good people skills
The role of a diagnostic medical sonographer requires working directly with patients, day in and day out. From the time the patient enters the room, you will need to explain the procedure to them and help to prepare them. You may need to use your hands during the ultrasound to focus on a specific body part, and may need to help patients to postion themselves so you can access the areas you need. Patience and courtesy will go a long way in these interactions, since the ultrasound is likely to go well if the patient is relaxed and comfortable. Once you have completed the ultrasound, it will be your job to communicate your observations to the doctors and nurses on your team.

Essential to a sonographer’s roll is assessing and identifying any problems that you might see in a patient’s ultrasound. This requires the ability to be accurate and precise with regards to many small details, both while you are performing the ultrasound but also afterwards in evaluating any images you recorded. All of the details matter in this job, because subtle differences can have a significant impact for a diagnosis or treatment plan. During the ultrasound you will need to be able to follow highly specific scanning protocols, so that the images you obtain are of the most use to the physician.

Comfortable with technology
In addition to daily contact with patients, you will also be in regular contact with imaging equipment (ultrasound machines) and the complex computerized instruments that accompany them. You should become comfortable learning how to use new equipment, since the technology in this field is changing all the time. A good training program will expose you to some of these machines.

Good on your feet
This is not a job where you sit in a chair all day—diagnostic sonographers spend a lot of time on their feet, and may need to stand at an ultrasound monitor for long periods of time, either during exams or supporting a doctor during a surgery. You may see a long list of patients over the course of a single day.

These are just some of the qualities that successful diagnostic medical sonographers possess. The fundamental requirement for this job is a desire to help patients and assist in a crucial healthcare role. If you decide you’d like to pursue this career path, it can lead to a gratifying profession.


This article is part of weekly blog of The American College for Medical Careers (ACMC). We offer diagnostic medical sonographer training programs as well as a cardiovascular sonography training program and a sonography bridge program. For more information, reach out to us!