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Radiology and Medical Sonography

if you are a nurse or other medical professional looking for a change, but don't want to leave the medical field, medical sonography or radiology may be exactly what you are looking for. In fact, this may also be the career for you if you want a medical career that is free of the stress often associated with being a nurse or physician.

Duties of the Job

A radiologist will, of course, take X-rays when so ordered by a physician. A medical sonography technician will work with sonograms and sonogram equipment.
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A diagnostic medical sonographer works with high frequency sound waves (called ultra sound) to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Unlike traditional X-rays, sonography is radiation free and, in addition to providing information about nearly any organ or internal part of the body, is also being used to detect and treat heart disease, and vascular disease. A sonographer may also help in surgery as the sound waves can be used to guide a fine needle in a biopsy procedure.

Both a sonographer and a radiologist will have direct contact with patients and may at times have to perform procedures that seem invasive. The professional responsibilities will include obtaining and recording an accurate patient history, performing the procedures, analyzing technical information, providing written summaries to the physicians and collaborating with physicians and other health care professionals.

A radiologic technician will have a career similar to that of the sonographer with the additional responsibility associated with working with radiation. It is possible for a technician to work in both sonography and radiology; many radiology technicians in health care facilities also operate the ultrasound equipment.

Opportunities and Salaries

Like many other technical careers, radiology and sonography have become computerized with equipment that requires increasingly more adept technicians. Where doctors once could take a quick X-ray in their own offices, many now must keep a technician on staff. The median salary for a radiologic technician in the United States as of April 2007 was $44,569, while the median salary for a sonographer was over $60,000. Nearly every medical facility requires a radiologic technician or sonographer, and many need both. You could be working in a hospital, a clinic, a nursing home, or even a specialized imaging center that does nothing but take x-rays or sonograms and forward them to the prescribing doctor.

A major advantage of a career in radiology or sonographic technology is that you usually work regular 40 hour per week schedules with some overtime. If you work in a hospital, those hours will include some weekends, but your schedule will be relatively predictable. Finally, you will be performing a much needed service, but will not be responsible for making diagnosis or recommendations directly to the patient. Thus you have will have a "hands-on" but reasonably stress free occupation.

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