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7 Skills and Traits Every Sonographer Needs

Sonographers produce critical diagnostic information for care providers across multiple specialty areas during ultrasound examinations which use high frequency sound waves. Sonographers use their knowledge of normal anatomy and pathology to adjust protocol and imaging technique to ensure the physician is given adequate information to make an accurate diagnosis.

Sonographer holding a patient's hand.

Sonographers should acquire certification in the specialty areas in which they practice. In addition, sonographers should possess the following seven core competencies.

One: Communication Skills

Sonographers should establish rapport with patients during scans in order to build trust, adequately explain examination procedures, answer questions and address concerns. It is also important for sonographers to communicate with other health care professionals about important information, as well as discipline specific facts and questions. [1]

Two: Technical Skills

Sonographers operate highly advanced ultrasound equipment, as well as supporting accessories such as calendar, email and scheduling software. [2] They also use database and query software in their daily work. Employers commonly require proficiency with electronic health records (EHRs), Microsoft Excel and Word, and procedure coding programs.

Three: Physical Conditioning and Stamina

Musculoskeletal injuries pose a serious threat for sonographers. However, they can avoid or diminish injuries by maintaining their endurance and fitness. [2] Most sonographers experience high to reasonably high physical workloads daily. Additionally, they spend most of the day performing repetitive motions. Consequently, knowledge and use of equipment ergonomic design plays an important role in job safety and satisfaction. To assist sonographers in this matter, the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography publishes guidelines and standards that imaging professionals should follow to prevent workplace injuries.

Four: Consideration and Understanding of Patients

Sonographers must evaluate patient needs and maintain quality standards, while providing excellent customer service. [2] While performing an ultrasound examination, sonographers should practice active listening and be attentive to patient demeanor to build a rapport that allows them to provide effective personal assistance and emotional support.

Five: Hand-eye Coordination

Sonographers must have excellent hand-eye coordination in order to scan through organs in various planes and pivot on structures that may be only millimeters in size. They must also be able to manipulate the controls on the machine and scan the patient while focusing on the images portrayed on the monitor. Keen eyesight is also important in order to identify and document subtle abnormalities.

Six: Organization and Time Management

Sonographers exhibit skill in prioritizing their workloads and achieving productivity goals, while displaying strong attention to detail and organizational skills.

Seven: Critical Thinking and Objective Analysis

Sonographers must make adjustments to ensure that ultrasound images are suitable for diagnostic use and then produce oral and/or written reports. Additionally, they identify which images provide relevant information and what tissue areas appear healthy or unhealthy. On occasion, they may have to decide whether to extend an ultrasound beyond the prescribed protocol.

Possessing these seven skills and traits will enable success as a sonographer in a field that is growing. As consumer demand for health services increases, stakeholders will seek out less invasive and more cost-effective procedures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts 24 percent growth in the field between 2014 and 2022, outpacing all other occupations significantly. While most sonographers work in hospitals, many others provide diagnostic services for physician practices and outpatient imaging facilities. Moreover, ambitious sonographers might find ample opportunities for advancement in the rapidly expanding health care field.

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The goal of the online Bachelor of Science degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (BSDMS) at Adventist University Health Sciences is to prepare sonographers who show a high level of competence and professionalism for future leadership roles, continuing and advanced education, and technology innovations. A sound decision to invest in your future today can lead to an even higher level of career satisfaction tomorrow.

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