Overview of Echocardiographers
Echocardiographers are highly specialized medical professionals who are qualified to assess patients cardiovascular needs using ultrasound technology. They are educated in the structure of the blood vessels and heart, and they are qualified to use highly technical equipment to map these structures, including the intricate walls and valves of the heart. Without echodardiogaphers, doctors would not have such detailed information about their patients cardiovascular systems and would not always be able to to devise the most appropriate health plan for each individual. While other forms of radiologic technology may have been more popular in the past, echocardiography is emerging as the safest and most accurate, cost effective and simplest imaging procedure for diagnosis of patients with cardiovascular health issues.
The Role of the Echocardiographer in Modern Medicine
An echocardiographer may also be known as a cardiac sonographer or echo tech (short for echocardiography technician). These medical professionals are found in clinics, doctors offices, hospitals and various other health care settings. Echocardiographers work closely with patients as well as other medical professionals of varying levels, so they must be compassionate and highly communicative to succeed in this career. After completing the highly technical imaging procedures, which may be performed while a patient is resting or while he or she is exercising, the echocardiographer takes the results to a physician, who can use this data to more accurately diagnose the patient. A big part of the job is explaining the procedures to patients and making sure they are comfortable, which requires a good bedside manner.
Education, Training and Job Opportunities
In order to enter this career field, one must complete specialized training in cardiac ultrasound technology, although the specific requirements vary somewhat from state to state. Most echocardiographers have an associate degree from a community college, technical school or vocational institute. Some echocardiographers have a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution, though, which is becoming more common as the trend moves toward formally trained and licensed echocardiography professionals. Whether one has an associates or bachelors degree, most states require some sort of certification or licensing, which is available through institutions such as the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. There are many types of certification, but becoming licensed always requires a rigorous exam administered by the National Board of Echocardiography, known as the ASCeXAM.
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