Purpose and Mission
Sonographers are allied healthcare professionals trained to use a specialised hand-held device called a transducer to produce dynamic visual images of organs, tissues, or blood flow inside the body. This type of procedure is referred to as an ultrasound scan.
Sonography is used to monitor foetal growth and to examine various body parts such as the abdomen, breasts, tendons, joints, reproductive systems, heart, prostrate and blood vessels. The images produced by sonographers are used by doctors to assist with medical diagnoses.
These days, sonography is increasingly being used in the detection and treatment of heart disease, heart attacks and vascular disease that can lead to stroke.
Sonographers are often employed at hospitals, clinics and OB/GYN practices, which means they means report to a department head or similar mid-level administrator.
Experienced sonographers may have supervisory responsibilities, including duties relating to training new colleagues and supervising staff, but many are focused on patient care rather than supervision.
Sonographers are required to hold a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Science or a related discipline, as well as a postgraduate diploma of Medical Ultrasound or a masters in sonography.
After completing their education, sonographers must be accredited by the Australasian Sonographer Accreditation Registry (ASAR). This requires completing a clinical training program that can take up to two years.
Like most healthcare professionals, sonographers must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Australasian Sonographer Accreditation Registry (ASAR) to practise. This applies to those that trained in Australia as well as abroad.
Responsibilities of a Sonographer
Sonographers have learned the skills required to view, analyse and modify medical diagnostic scans, and to derive as much information as possible from the image/scan. They answer people’s questions, operate specialised equipment, maintain and prepare sonography equipment, analyse images, evaluate them for quality, and report their findings to other healthcare practitioners.
They often work in public or private hospitals, doctors’ offices or clinics. Some sonographers start their own businesses in partnership with other medical professionals.
Working in sonography requires strong technical skills to ensure that the equipment is functioning properly and to obtain usable images with the equipment. They need good hand-eye coordination, the physical strength to lift and move patients and the ability to stand for long periods of time.
Sonographers also need strong critical thinking skills to assess images and patients quickly and effectively. They need to work with other medical professionals but must also function independently. The work can be high pressure and there can be many interruptions. Depending on the employer, sonographers may work weekdays, weekends, evenings or on an on-call basis.