Is There a Difference Between Ultrasound and Sonography?

If you’ve been looking into a career in diagnostic medical imaging, you’re probably seeing the terms “ultrasound” and “sonography” pop up a lot. sometimes separately, sometimes interchangeably. Maybe you’ve been wondering whether there’s a difference the two.

The simplest answer is no, they’re basically one and the same. The slightly more complex answer is that there is a very slim difference in that “sonography” is the full study of ultrasound technology and “ultrasound” can specifically refer to the final product or the act of creating that final product.

People who work with ultrasound and sonography equipment have varying job titles that depends on their level of education. Ultrasound or sonography technicians often have a diploma and aren’t board registered, while those who are board-certified and have at least two years of college education often work as a Sonographer, Medical Sonographer, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Cardiovascular Sonographer, Echocardiographer, Ultra-sonographer, Ultrasound Technologist, etc.

The Role of a Medical Sonographer and an Ultrasound Technologist:

Sonography is a non-invasive way of using sound waves to create images of the inside of the human body, including bones, tendons, muscles, the cardiovascular or nervous system, organs, and any growths like cancerous tumors. While most people think of ultrasounds as being used to track the growth and development of a baby inside the womb, this technique is also a vital tool when it comes to diagnosing potential issues within the human body. Doctors will often request for sonographers to take several photos and videos of the specified body part during an ultrasound appointment.

When a patient reports for an ultrasound, it is the job of the sonographer to answer their questions and help them feel comfortable with the procedure. They will instruct them where to change into a hospital gown and place their clothes during the appointment. They also set up the equipment for each new patient, making sure that it is clean and sterilized before doing so. Sonographers are also responsible for ensuring that the exam room is clean after each patient’s appointment.

After taking several images of the body part in question, the sonographer writes a report to accompany the photos and forwards everything to the doctor. Sonographers are not able to diagnose and must refer such questions to the doctor in charge. Sonographers and ultrasound technicians can often specialize within their field, focusing on obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, neurology, vascular, pediatrics, and more.

How to Become an Ultrasound Technologist or Medical Sonographer

Your first step toward working in this exciting and growing career is to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree at an accredited school like WCUI School of Medical Imaging. Although you can enter the field with only a diploma, candidates with two to four years of higher education and training often command higher salaries and are in greater demand. In addition, sonographers with a bachelor’s degree have more opportunities to move into leadership positions, work as an educator, and more. We offer bachelor’s degree programs in Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography and Diagnostic Medical Sonography to help you meet your career goals.

Our Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography program prepares you to work in the cardiovascular and vascular field, with training in topics like:

  • Anatomy and physiology as it relates to cardiac conditions
  • Electrocardiography (EKG)
  • Heart diseases, including adult congenital heart disease and structural heart disease, along with how to diagnose them
  • Pathology and protocols beyond the heart in the full vascular system
  • Professionalism and ethics in a medical career
  • Screening and prevention protocols

Our four-year Diagnostic Medical Sonography program has courses that cover:

  • Advanced vascular, abdominal, gynecology and obstetrics, and musculoskeletal ultrasounds
  • Ultrasound procedures for biopsy and preventative screening protocols
  • How to relate anatomy and physiology to the field of diagnostic medical sonography
  • How to care for patients undergoing ultrasound procedures
  • How to demonstrate entry-level clinical knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the care of patients undergoing ultrasound procedures

Successful WCUI graduates are able to sit for multiple registry exams, including Cardiac Credentialing International (CCI), the American Registry of Radiologic Technology (AART), the American Registry for Diagnostic Sonography (ARDMS), the Sonographic Principles and Information (SPI) Registry. We’ll guide you through everything you need in order to attain the proper certification and prepare you for the job market.

Medical Sonography is an In-Demand Position

With the population of the U.S. aging rapidly, sonography, like much of the healthcare field is expected to have an employment boom. And with ultrasound being such a non-invasive, effective way to prevent, diagnose, and track disease, it’s no wonder this job market is hot.

In California, the projected growth in employment for diagnostic medical sonographers is 27.5%, while in Arizona, the projected employment growth is 53%! In California, the projected growth in employment for cardiovascular sonographers is 16%, and in Arizona, the projected employment growth is 40%.

If you’ve been considering a career in medical sonography, now is the time. WCUI School of Medical Imaging has campuses in Los Angeles, California; Ontario, California; and Phoenix, Arizona for your convenience. Please contact us to learn more about our programs or request an enrollment application today.

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