Job Title: Cardiac Sonographer
Type of Company: I work for a cardiology office that has twelve cardiologists.
Education: AS, Science, Bunker Hill Community College (Boston, MA)
Previous Experience: I worked in a hospital as a secretary in a cardiac unit.
Job Tasks: I am a cardiac ultrasound technician. This means that I take ultrasound pictures of patients' hearts. I can evaluate how well the person's heart muscle is working. I can see all the walls of the heart moving, which means if someone has had a heart attack and it has done damage to the heart muscle, I will see that damage. I can also see the valves inside the heart opening and closing along with the blood flow across the valves. Evaluating the valves is important, because sometimes they don't open wide enough causing restriction and sometimes the valves leak, causing blood to regurgitate instead of flowing forward. I measure the chamber sizes of the heart and see if a patient has an enlarged heart or thickened heart muscle. I report all of my findings on a worksheet and then give this sheet to a cardiologist to analyze. The ultrasound helps the physician to treat the patient with appropriate medications or possible heart surgery.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The very best part of my job is that I help the physicians diagnose a patient's illness, which in turn will help the patient feel better. I enjoy interacting with patients and helping them feel comfortable when they come in for the study. Some people like to talk during the test, which is fine with me because I like talking with them.
On occasion the job can get really busy and the physicians will add patients on, which means I may not get out on time. Working in the medical field, you never know when an emergency will come in. It could be lunch time or at 5:00 when I should be going home. This is probably the worst part of the job.
Job Tips: The ultrasound course is only two years long, but it is a very intense course. You have to be willing to commit your time to your studies. The clinical part of this field is difficult, because you go into hospitals and work under another ultrasound technician without getting paid. At the end of your clinical apprenticeship, you will be just about doing a whole study by yourself. Just remember that it is worth it; it doesn't take long and you will be out in the field on your own and actually getting paid for it.
Additional Thoughts: I would advise anyone looking to go into this field, to shadow someone first. Actually anything in the medical field should be job-shadowed, so you can make sure it is really what you want before you study for it.
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