Ultrasound tech vs. radiology tech

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Comments (17)

Starlage in Seattle, Washington

14 months ago

Hello, I'm JUST at the beginning of trying to figure out what I want to go back to school for. I turn 30 this year, am bored with my current profession after 7 years and have reached the top of it's crappy pay scale with no other prospectives besides management and I have worked in healthcare long enough to know that I don't want to go that route.

I'm torn between radiology tech and ultrasound tech. I'm going to list my reasons for liking them and reasons I'm leaning toward one or the other, how about you share yours? Why did you choose to do one or the other? Would you go back and choose something else if you could? Anyone out there in Washington in particular with opinions on the job market and schools? I'm looking into Bellevue College. I've been a medical assistant for 7 years in a very busy ambulatory care clinic. I like my work as an MA but quite frankly I'm bored with it and am depressed about the fact of never being able to make more than I am currently (barely 39K a year) because with the high cost of living in the Seattle area I'm already living paycheck to paycheck. I like technology, I learn it easy. I also have such a strong backround in direct patient care I figured going into radiology would be a great way to marry the two and make more money without having to be a nurse (which I really don't want) or go back to school for a full 4 year degree.
I was initally interested in radiology tech because of all the different things you can go back to be certified in, meaning later I can change to something else if I want (ct, mri, pet). But then I saw ultrasound tech and the money they make right off the bat and became interested in that. The plus seems to be I'd be a bit more of a specialist and have more of a hand in the patient's diagnosis than just running a machine but the cons would be that there doesn't seem to be anywhere else to go after you choose a specialty. Am I wrong in that?

Just having such a hard time deciding between the two.

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Starlage in Seattle, Washington

14 months ago

Wanted to add more but ran out of room.

I know that it'll be hard to find a job in either as a new student out of school, and I completely understand that I may have to do a per diem job or two to get the experience I'll need in order to get a full time job in the future. But I figure with ultrasound I'd at least be making around what I currently am even as part time.... so it'd be fine. If nothing else I've always got medical assisting to fall back on. I also plan to look for some job shadowning opportunities in the near future in both feilds, hopefully in multiple specialties so that I can make a more knowlegable decision between the two. I'm fortunate enough to already work in a big hospital, so it won't be a big deal for me to contact the radiology department and ask about shadowing.

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Roger in Oakland, California

14 months ago

Starlage,

Technology will definitely be part of either rad or sonography.

With sonography, it is more personal, as you are up close to a patient and spend some time with them while you are scanning. Depending on what you are scanning (different specialties of ultrasound) some are quick and some are not so quick.

With radiology, X ray, you put a plate underneath the patient, step back and the machine is done.. quick and simple.

I dont think rad techs, whether it is xray, mri, or ct, are as "involved" as ultrasound is purely technologist dependant and you are the one getting the views, as opposed to radiology, you set them up for positioning and the machine does the imaging... but that is just my take on it, I'm sure someone with a more direct rad tech background.

Both paths can lead to a rewarding career and you can expand in either field. The Bellevue program is very well recognized for their Ultrasound program.

With ultrasound, you are not exposed to radiation. But you are using your body more, and if you are not careful, you can become injury prone.

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Mariam in Dearborn, Michigan

14 months ago

My first word of advice is tk Choose the field that you are most comfortable with. After that's done set your mind to it and make it your goal to graduate as a sonographer don't let anyone tell you it's hard to find a job because guess what eventually you will find a job and enjoy it. You're right the pay is great and its not very hard to get into( well depending I your college, you see my college only accepts 12 students a year so you have to get really good grades in your prereqs) so glad luck to you and if you do plan on doing the DMS program keep in contact with me we can do it togather. Hope everything work out for you :)

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Starlage in Seattle, Washington

14 months ago

thanks for the responses!

The more I think about both fields and what the jobs actually consist of the more I'm leaning toward ultrasound. I like upclose more "involved" interactions with patients. In my current job patients are my favorite part of the job. I love assiting with procedures, being able to chat with the patient during, explain things as the doctor goes along. I like the idea of my job being more dependant on my eye if I choose ultrasound and what I see during a scan vs "lay here, position this way, don't move" etc. I also hear nothing but good things about the program at Bellevue College. I think they have 24 or so cohorts each year out of 100-150 applicants so I'm very aware once I get to that point in my schooling I'll probably get passed up the first time (unless I do miraculously amazing on my pre-reqs) and will have to wait. But thankfully I have a career I'm okay with as is so I can just keep working, maybe take more classes as I work even if they aren't pre-reqs. I'm excited about it, mostly excited for the challenge and change, the future possibilites. Also scared though, as I'll have to be working throughout my schooling, even once I get to the fulltime program. My elderly mother lives with me, so there's no way I'll be able to lessen my bills. I think i'll be able to maybe work part-time and add some cost of living expenses to my student loans. I have faith though that it'll all work out, and that now's the time to do it. I waited this long because I was doubtful of my ability to work and go to school but for some reason my attitude has changed about it and now I'm confident I CAN do it even though it'll be scary and hard.

Thanks!

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Mariam in Detroit, Michigan

14 months ago

Absolutely.! Don't even mention it.

I feel the same way that interacting with the patients makes the job a lot more exciting and time flies by that way. I'm glad you enjoy your current job but I understand you would want a change. You know it's not bad that they accept 25 people you have a great chance just believe in yourself and study very hard for your prereqs I'm sure you can do it..I am very nervous but I'm putting faith in my self I'm just put of high school and the prereqs are pretty challenging (anatomy and physiology 1&2, medical terminology, and so much more) I have to get A's to even have a chance on getting accepted but like I said I'm putting faith in myself.. And you know what reading what you have to say really boosts my motivation it's a good thing you are motivated. I really hope everything works out for you..BTW is the program at that college an associates or bachelors degree? And what are the prereqs required for that program.

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Roger RCS RDCS (AE,PE) RVT in Oakland, California

14 months ago

If you have great communication with patients, that is a plus. One of the things with pediatrics is that patients and families are more sensitive and anxious at times.

With that said, we also deal with patients that have cognitive issues (MPS IIIB, Sanfilippo for example)or other syndromes or neurological or mental issues... so learning to deal with those kiddos takes patience and understanding.

Same could be said for adults as I scanned patients that came from a psychiatric hospital and homeless people that were very unfriendly.

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Starlage in Seattle, Washington

14 months ago

let's see if I can get this to work this time. I typed long replies twice yesterday and had them disappear into hyperspace somewhere instead of posting! How annoying.

.....testing!

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Starlage in Seattle, Washington

14 months ago

oh for christ sake. It just disappeared into nowhere again. I'll try again later! This site doesn't like my long replies.

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Starlage in Seattle, Washington

14 months ago

maybe 4th time will be the charm? I was smarter this time and typed it into an email first so that I don't have to retype the whole thing if it disappears again. MARIAM- don't be scared of a&p/ medical terminology! It just involves tons of memorizing in my opinion. Physiology's a little harder than just memorizing things, but if you're meant to work in the medical world it should come fairly naturally to you understanding how things work in the body. You're a step ahead of me mostly likely as far as study skills and writing skills go because of the fact that you're just out of high school. I've been out of school a long time and never really had great skills in either, so I will be trying to develop them as a new student instead of already having them like you. The program at Bellevue College is an AA program, but they also offer a BA program to take after that along with a certificate in breast ultrasound that you can take. The pre-reqs are probably comparable to other programs- from memory: english either technical or research writing, basic sociology, basic physics, a&p 1&2, medical terminology, pre-calculus. All of it scary and intimidating, I agree. Doable though!
Roger- thanks for the warning/ reminder. I'm definitely aware that there will be difficult patients and it won't be all sunshine and roses scanning pregnant ladies all day. I've got a great background in direct patient care already and have had my fair share of crazy/ difficult patients where I work (Univ of WA Med ctr). I think I'll be fine as far as dealing with patients goes! I just need to learn the technology and diagnostic skills! :o) I'm scared but excited for the posibilities and the challenge.

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Roger RCS RDCS (AE,PE) RVT in Oakland, California

14 months ago

Starlage,

You'll learn all that when you enter the program. It is difficult to learn the different machines, but it's nothing. When I did my internships, I tried to touch EVERY machine! I had a classmate that only wanted to use Philips IE33, but not every hospital has that machine... so being universal and flexible as possible helps. Any University medical center or Trauma hospital (Harbor view) IMO are the best learning places. I did my first internship at UCSF(University medical center)and saw pathology everyday. Then I had my 2nd internship at a smaller hospital and I didnt see anything. As a student.. that is not good. I'm glad I fell into pediatrics as I see pathology and repairs everyday.

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Sunny23 in Seattle, Washington

6 months ago

Hey Starlage,
I too am interested in the Bellevue College Ultrasound Tech program. Did you get in to the program? If so, what were your grades in pre-reqs and how is the program going so far? Thanks!

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Sunny23 in Seattle, Washington

6 months ago

Hey Starlage,
I too am interested in the Bellevue College Ultrasound Tech program. Did you get in to the program? If so, what were your grades in pre-reqs and how is the program going so far? Thanks!

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Starlage in Seattle, Washington

6 months ago

Hi Sunny,

I never got around to starting a program or even starting pre-reqs :o) I will someday but for some personal things in my life I needed to put off school. Hope you figure things out!!

Starlage

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Haider in Metuchen, New Jersey

5 months ago

I wish you best luck Starlage.

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jen.s04 in Alameda, California

1 month ago

Roger RCS RDCS (AE,PE) RVT in Oakland, California said: Starlage,

You'll learn all that when you enter the program. It is difficult to learn the different machines, but it's nothing. When I did my internships, I tried to touch EVERY machine! I had a classmate that only wanted to use Philips IE33, but not every hospital has that machine... so being universal and flexible as possible helps. Any University medical center or Trauma hospital (Harbor view) IMO are the best learning places. I did my first internship at UCSF(University medical center)and saw pathology everyday. Then I had my 2nd internship at a smaller hospital and I didnt see anything. As a student.. that is not good. I'm glad I fell into pediatrics as I see pathology and repairs everyday.

What school did you go to? I'm looking into doing either Radiology or Sonography, and am trying to decide which and which school to do it.

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ElliE in Warsaw, Poland

1 month ago

First of all I would check the job availability for each profession yoou want to jump into. Try any of job seach sites - like medpharmjobs.pl.

That's how I chose my profession!
It really helps the decision process/

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