Associate's Degree in Medical Diagnostics

A sonographer is responsible for operating and maintaining medical equipment like X-ray and MRI machines for the purpose of monitoring and diagnosing a patient. Learn more about the field in general, the responsibilities of the role, prerequisites and common course topics. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is Medical Diagnostics?

Medical diagnostics is the study and practice of diagnosing disease. Conclusions are reached through the administration of tests using sonography, X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging. The images captured are critical tools for both monitoring and diagnosing conditions and diseases. Typically, working as a diagnostic medical sonographer will place you in a thriving career in medical diagnostics.

Field Focus Sonography, X-ray and MRI technology for the monitoring and diagnosis of diseases
Job Responsibilities Equipment maintenance, patient record updating, administrative duties
Educational Requirements Most employers prefer a candidate with at least an associate's degree
Common Courses Anatomy, physiology, clinical work involving equipment
Median Salary (2018) $72,510 (for diagnostic medical sonographers)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 23% growth (for diagnostic medical sonographers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Do?

Diagnostic medical sonographers use equipment that radiates sound waves in order to capture and record images on a patient. Sonographers are responsible for equipment maintenance, as well as updating patient records.

As a diagnostic medical sonographer, you will need strong communication skills, as you will work closely with patients, some of whom may be uncomfortable. You may also be in charge of administrative tasks such as scheduling, purchasing or other tasks that your managing physician may assign.

Do I Need a Degree?

Most employers prefer to hire diagnostic medical sonographers who have a formal education and training. The most common degree level needed to work in medical diagnostics is usually an associate's degree that will take around two years to complete. Some degree programs provide the option of earning your degree in a specialty area of diagnostic medical sonography such as cardiac ultrasound or OB/GYN ultrasound.

Once you have earned your associate's degree, you will be able to begin practice as an entry-level sonographer. Be sure to confirm that the sonography degree program that you are enrolling in is accredited and that you meet all of the program admittance prerequisites.

What Courses Will I Take?

If you are enrolled in a medical diagnostics associate's degree program you will take a wide range of courses. In addition to general education courses such as English, math and general electives, you will also take science courses like anatomy and physiology.

Communication classes that will help you interact with patients may also be part of your curriculum and you will also take computer classes. Clinical practice in sonography will begin around the second year of enrollment and you may also have the opportunity for internships. Specific course offerings and requirements will vary depending on the program, but you can expect laboratory work, equipment training and heavy science coursework to be included in your education.

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