Cardiac / Vascular Sonographer

Overview

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Cardiac sonographers and vascular sonographers assist physicians in diagnosing and treating heart and blood vessel disorders. Both specialists use ultrasound technology to perform noninvasive tests – ones

Cardiac sonographers, also referred to as echocardiographers, examine the heart chambers, valves and blood vessels.  The images produced are called echocardiograms, and the sonographer selects and records images for the physician to review.  These tests may be performed while a patient is resting or when they are physically active.  Most tests are performed in an ultrasound exam room, but echocardiograms can also be ordered in the heart catheterization lab, the intensive care unit, and even during surgical procedures. that do not require insertion of probes or other instruments into the patient’s body.

Vascular sonographers evaluate pulses and assess the condition of arteries and veins by listening to the vascular flow sounds for abnormalties, and then performing ultrasound tests to record blood flow, blood pressure and other measurements.  Tests are performed in ultrasound exam rooms and also during or immediately after surgery. Cardiac and vascular sonographers work very closely with physicians.

Details

Potential Employers

  • General hospitals
  • Heart specialty hospitals
  • Specialty clinics
  • Cardiologist offices
  • Diagnostic imaging centers

Work Environment

Cardiovascular technologists may spend a lot of time walking and standing. Heavy lifting may be involved to move equipment or transfer patients.  The work schedule is generally a 5-day, 40-hour week that may include weekends.

Job Outlook

Employment of cardiovascular technologists is expected to increase 24 percent through the year 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand will stem from the prevalence of heart disease and the aging population, because older people have a higher incidence of heart disease and other complications. Imaging procedures are being performed more and more as a replacement for more expensive and invasive procedures. As the technology continues to advance, demand for vascular and cardiac sonographers is expected to grow.

Aptitudes

  • Ability to work with a variety of people
  • Ability to communicate technically with physicians
  • Ability to explain procedures simply to patients
  • Ability to maintain a pleasant, relaxed manner for putting patients at ease
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good manual dexterity, space and form perception
  • Ability to learn scientific as well as mechanical information

Education

Cardiac sonographers and vascular sonographers assist physicians in diagnosing and treating heart and blood vessel disorders. Both specialists use ultrasound technology to perform noninvasive tests – ones that do not require insertion of probes or other instruments into the patient’s body.

Cardiac sonographers, also referred to as echocardiographers, examine the heart chambers, valves and blood vessels. The images produced are called echocardiograms, and the sonographer selects and records images for the physician to review. These tests may be performed while a patient is resting or when they are physically active. Most tests are performed in an ultrasound exam room, but echocardiograms can also be ordered in the heart catheterization lab, the intensive care unit, and even during surgical procedures.

Vascular sonographers evaluate pulses and assess the condition of arteries and veins by listening to the vascular flow sounds for abnormalties, and then performing ultrasound tests to record blood flow, blood pressure and other measurements. Tests are performed in ultrasound exam rooms and also during or immediately after surgery.

Cardiac and vascular sonographers work very closely with physicians. “We are actually their right hand,” says Scott Yackley, dual-credentialed in cardiac and vascular sonography. “When the doctor orders the study, we go do the test and get them the information they need. The doctors look at those images, the report that we’ve filled out, and then read that to come up with a final diagnosis. So they rely on us tremendously to give them accurate and vital information to help the patient get better.”

Potential Employers

  • General hospitals
  • Heart specialty hospitals
  • Specialty clinics
  • Cardiologist offices
  • Diagnostic imaging centers

Work Environment

Cardiovascular technologists may spend a lot of time walking and standing. Heavy lifting may be involved to move equipment or transfer patients. The work schedule is generally a 5-day, 40-hour week that may include weekends.

Job Outlook

Employment of cardiovascular technologists is expected to increase 24 percent through the year 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand will stem from the prevalence of heart disease and the aging population, because older people have a higher incidence of heart disease and other complications. Imaging procedures are being performed more and more as a replacement for more expensive and invasive procedures. As the technology continues to advance, demand for vascular and cardiac sonographers is expected to grow.

Aptitudes

  • Ability to work with a variety of people
  • Ability to communicate technically with physicians
  • Ability to explain procedures simply to patients
  • Ability to maintain a pleasant, relaxed manner for putting patients at ease
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good manual dexterity, space and form perception
  • Ability to learn scientific as well as mechanical information

Requirements

The majority of cardiovascular technologists complete a 2-year program resulting in an associate degree, although there are some 4-year programs outside Nebraska. The programs must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

The first year is dedicated to core courses and is followed by a year of specialized instruction in either cardiac sonography or vascular sonography. Those who are already qualified in an allied health profession, need only complete the year of specialized instruction.

Licensing is not currently required. Credentialing, however, is considered the professional standard and is required by most employers. To become registered, a person must take the credentialing examination from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).

Programs in Nebraska

Related / Links

Cardiac sonographers and vascular sonographers are two of three careers that encompass the broader title of Cardiovascular Technologist. The other career is:

Other careers that involve operating sophisticated equipment to help physicians diagnose and treat patients include:

Professional Associations

Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Cardiovascular Technologists, on the Internet at www.bls.gov

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