I recently had a lovely meet and greet with a passionate up-and-coming student sonographer. I was reminded quickly of one of my biggest concerns when considering sonography as my career - pigeonholing. I'm here to tell you why that 1000% should NOT be a concern when entering this field. It's big and diverse and broad and exciting! Whether you're just considering the field, a student looking ahead, or a seasoned sonographer looking to be reminded of all the fascinating alleys, join me as we take a journey through the multitude of options at our fingertips:
Ultrasound itself is not a pigeonhole.
I know this sounds like a cop-out. I promise we're getting to the other options. But I want to start here, because you don't always need to look too far away to reinvigorate yourself within your field. Within the sonography field, you can work at inpatient hospitals, both large and small; you can work in outpatient clinics, OB/GYN clinics, breast centers, vascular centers, and more. Within those settings, you can work in cardiac, vascular, general, abdomen, OB, musculoskeletal or any combination of those. Two sonographers often do not have the same experiences. One sonographer can be working in a general ultrasound department of a busy level I trauma hospital, while another is working in a small OB clinic with expectant mothers, and yet another is utilizing MSK skills in a physical therapy practice. Sonography is a huge world full of options.
This option may or may not involve higher education, depending on the site in question. It's good to know, when entering any new job, that there is opportunity for upward movement. As a sonographer, you can move up into lead tech positions, ultrasound management positions, or even higher up radiology and imaging management positions and beyond. Once you are in the hospital environment and understand how the wheels turn, any good hospital will be open to promoting its interested and valued employees (or risk losing them) (in my personal opinion of course).
Help us find more of us! Again, this may require additional schooling, depending on where you want to teach. Educating the next cohort of sonographers is a fantastic option because you can teach them everything you had to learn the hard way, and you can help to create the type of sonographer that you would want working with you or scanning you or your loved ones. Plus, you definitely become an expert in the field when you have to break down principles into their most basic components. See one, do one, teach one, right?
This one really often aligns with some of the other options on here, but I wanted them all to have their time to shine. Ultrasound, like anything in the medical field, is ever-changing and ever-evolving. There is new technology all the time, new ways to utilize the technology we already have, and new ways to help sonographers. Exploring research options can become overwhelming quickly, as there is so much information out there to be expanded on. Research can be done on specific diseases, machine technology, ergonomics, and many more areas that affect sonography and sonographers, or other fields. We're all a team in healthcare, and everyone has a unique perspective to contribute. Teaming up with colleagues from other modalities or other departments is a fun way to get unique perspectives and really open new doors for research topics.
Once you're in an imaging modality, you can take it upon yourself to cross-train into other imaging modalities or other sections of ultrasound. For instance, if you cross-train into x-ray or CT, you can then market yourself to places in need of both, or give yourself some variety and get a part-time job in each (or full-time if you're really ambitious - don't let me limit you.). Many sonographers who have been in the field a long time are cross-trained, and it seems really useful to have the skills to meander into other departments to work. A lot of smaller hospitals or clinics really value this because they can hire one person to cover two slower departments, rather than having two people sitting around bored half the day. Plus for you, you get a little extra spice in your day.
Become a business owner
Take a page from the book of our fantastic founder and open your own ultrasound clinic or imaging center! Make your own hours, work with radiologists you want to, work on the machines you want to, hire people who meet YOUR standards, and be your own boss (mostly)! I'm not going to pretend to know all the benefits of this one, and I'll leave it to our fearless leader to maybe write her own blog post about this one one day (huh Daryan, huh??). I will say that it sounds amazing and like a dream world.
And there you have it! A list of all the wonderful options we have as sonographers. I'm sure there are even more that I'm missing - let me know! I hope that I've inspired you to either enter this magical field or to expand your career if it's a field you've been in for a long time. Either way, go forth and be inspired! Let the sound waves lead you to happiness and success! And don't forget who inspired you when you're big and important.
Also, still waiting for the computer powers that be to acknowledge us as a word. Really tired of right-clicking that red squiggly and "add to dictionary" in every program that I type the words "sonography" and "sonographer" in (IT JUST DID IT AGAIN JUST NOW). It's almost ultrasound awareness month, can we work on this please? I promise it's a word, see: