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Medical Equipment News

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Job Profile: Ultrasound technologist - more than looking at babies

Mindy Ward can tell if your baby will be a boy or a girl.

With her ultrasound machine, gel and transducers, the 28-year-old ultrasound technologist can determine if a patient has blood clots or gallstones.

Every day is different.

A lot of people think all we do is fetus scans, but we look for gallstones and use vascular scans looking for blood clots. It’s from outpatient to inpatient to ER patients.

You have to have a poker face a lot of the time because they have to get the results from their physician. … We are the technologist that does the image for the radiologist to read.

The only thing we’re allowed to tell is the baby’s weight and gender. … We don’t actually bring it up until they ask.

Everybody’s generally happy when they find out and can finally shop for the baby. (There are) lots of tears when people find out what their baby will be.

I use an ultrasound machine and different transducers across the abdomen. A water-based gel makes an air-free barrier between the skin. Otherwise we can’t see the image.

You learn the positions and the protocol for each scan. We start down low by the pelvis… do one side and go to the other and the image comes up on the machine.

You have to have schooling to get into the field. Typically, a two-year (diagnostic medical sonography) degree. You have to be certified and pass two boards. Every year, you have to pay dues to keep certified. It’s $60.

Reading people and interacting with patients of all ages is a big part of the job.

You have to be able to multi-task because we get a lot of add-ons and patients who come in and are really sick.

You have to have somebody that’s a go-getter and hard worker. You have a busy schedule. You have to fit patients between times because you can’t put them off.

Rarely do we get a slow day. The hours are 7 a.m. to 4 or 4:30 p.m., but you’re on call basically all the time. We usually make $45,000 to (about $70,000), but it depends on where you work and what kind of facility.

The worst thing to happen (would be) if the machine breaks down and we would have to reschedule everyone.

This story is part of a weekly series called “On the Job,” in which area residents talk about their careers.

Contact reporter Amber Dulek at (507) 453-3513 or


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