Demand Surges for Medical Sonographers
By Debra Wood, RN
ranks as one of fastest growing U.S. jobs
A confluence of more patients
seeking health services and the noninvasive nature of ultrasound imaging has
led to rising demand for the healthcare profession of diagnostic medical
sonographers, which is likely to grow stronger in the years ahead. The US
Bureau of Labor Statistics shows sonographers as one of the fastest growing
jobs in the country.
are a lot of individuals with access to insurance, so they are starting to get
diagnostic testing,” said Linda Murphy,
Allied Division Vice President
at AMN Healthcare in Florida. “At the
same time, we’re hearing hospitals are getting increased revenue generation through
improved outcomes, which many are investing in equipment and in hiring traveling
radiology technicians and sonographers.”
The additional staff are needed to accommodate an increase in patients
referred for mammograms and ultrasound studies, which employs high-frequency
sound waves to view soft tissues.
provides people the opportunity to get diagnostics for their disease
states without an invasive procedure or radiologic side effects,” Murphy
the same time, advances in ultrasound technology have improved the images,
making the technology useful in the diagnosis of more conditions. A recent study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found
that ultrasound was as effective as computed tomography in diagnosing kidney
stones with lower radiation exposure.
to ultrasound include greater contrast-enhanced imaging, which allows
physicians to identify tissue and fluids; volume imaging; three- and
four-dimensional imaging; and elastography, providing color codes to help in
the differentiation between normal and malignant tumors.
it continues to advance, [ultrasound images] will get sharper and sharper,” Murphy
said. “The ultimate goal is for machines like ultrasound to replace X-ray and
the exposure to radiation.”
has become more portable, compact and cost-effective, allowing testing to be
performed in clinics and physician offices. Murphy reported obstetricians now
usually perform an ultrasound at every visit late in pregnancy, whereas in the
past, one ultrasound would typically have been performed at 16 weeks.
technology has advanced; now they can see the chambers of the baby’s
heart,” Murphy said.
of Labor Statistics reports diagnostic medical sonographer is one of the fasted
growing occupations, with a projected 46 percent growth rate from 2012 to 2022.
In addition, it’s one of the best paying in the top 10 fastest growing professions,
at a median annual wage of $65,860, second only to industrial-organizational
psychologists, who typically must complete more education.
The Society of Diagnostic Medical
Sonography (SDMS) 2013 Salary and Benefit Survey Report indicated a higher
median salary of $78,520 annually for sonographers.
Sonographers need an associate or
bachelor’s degree. One-year certification programs are often available to
people already employed in related healthcare positions. The SDMS recommends
students select a program that meets the minimum requirements set by the
American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Some states require
employers prefer sonographers with professional certification, since payers often
only reimburse for a procedure conducted by a certified sonographer or
exams typically focus on one area, such as abdominal, breast, obstetrics or
vascular sonography, and those in the field often hold more than one certification.
Diagnostic medical sonographers with multiple certifications are in especially
strong demand and often receive multiple job offers and highly competitive
reported an increasing challenge in finding enough sonographers to fill
requests from hospitals and imaging centers. That has allowed traveling sonographers
to earn, as part of a total compensation package, close to $100,000, while
seeing the country.
future looks fabulous for ultrasound because it is a safer, more cost-effective, portable alternative,” Murphy said.
Learn more about Ultrasound Staffing