One of the most interesting, and challenging, places for an Ultrasound Technician to work is in an Obstetrics – Gynecology office. Obstetrics is the medical practice that cares for women, their reproductive tracts, and includes their children during their pregnancies, as well as birth and postnatal care. The practice of Gynecology cares for women and their reproductive systems, and deals with disorders and diseases of these systems as well as issues of sterility. Usually, Gynecologists are also Obstetricians; however, Obstetricians are limited to caring for pregnant women and their infants.
There is a high demand for qualified Ultrasound Techs, and growth in this field is expected to increase by 18% in the next several years. Such demand creates wonderful employment opportunities for those entering this field. Along with the demand for Ultrasound Techs, also known as diagnostic Medical Sonographers, there is also a high demand for those Ultrasound Techs who have chosen to specialize in one particular field such as OB-Gyn.
To become an Ultrasound Tech, there are many two year or four year training programs available, resulting in an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree. It is important to select a program that is accredited. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has accredited over 150 training programs for this field.
After successfully completing their education from an accredited program, they will have the opportunity to become a registered Ultrasound Tech. While it is not required to become licensed in diagnostic medical sonography, most employers prefer licensure because it provides an independent measure of that student’s professional capabilities and standing. After successfully completing their educational requirements, Ultrasound Techs take great pride in obtaining their license, because it is a mark of their achievements and capabilities in their profession. Becoming registered also greatly increases their salary ranges, and increases their value to future employers.
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography is the certifying body for each student who passes the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer exam. For those who wish to obtain this credential for different specialties such as OB/Gyn ultrasounds, the ARDMS also provides these specialty exams.
The specialty exam for OB/Gyn requires the student to pass two parts: the sonography principles and instrumentation as well as the OBGYN exam. The exam itself is 170 questions, multiple choice, and can take up to three hours to complete.
The specialty exam tests students on their knowledge of both obstetrics and gynecology sonography evaluations. There is a higher percentage emphasis placed on some topics than others. Students will be tested on pelvic and fetal anatomy and physiology, and the imaging techniques used. These include:
Gynecology– abnormal pelvic anatomy and physiology, pediatric, reproductive, peri-menopausal and post-menopausal. This topic is 24-28%
Gynecology – normal pelvic anatomy and physiology, pediatric, reproductive, peri-menopausal and post-menopausal. This topic is 21-25%
Obstetrics– first trimester 11-14%, complications 12-16%, fetal abnormalities 10-16%, second / third trimester normal anatomy 8-12%, second/third trimester assessment 4-8%, patient care, ultrasound preparation techniques 1-5%
There are many practice tests, sample questions, on-line resources and study guides that are available for students to take before taking the specialty examination for RDMS credentialing. The specialty exam test results will be between 300 and 700 points. To pass the Specialty exam, students must receive a point score of 555 or higher. If they do not receive a passing score, they must wait sixty days to re-test.
Ultrasound Techs who have specialized in one area, such as OB/Gyn enjoy a salary average of $63,000 – $89,000 per year, higher than that of a general diagnostic medical sonographer or Ultrasound Tech. Along with increasing their salary range, specializing increases the Ultrasound Tech’s marketability and creates more employment options. Ultrasound Techs who are specialized are highly competitive in their field. Because employers value this additional education and credentialing, the Ultrasound Tech may have more freedom to select where they may work, and may be offered additional employee benefits such as paid vacations.
Once the Ultrasound Tech has achieved their OB/Gyn specialization, they may seek employment at one of the many practices around the country. The combined practice of OB/Gyn is one of the most sought after forms of healthcare in the United States. Currently, most practices are concentrated along the Eastern Coast, as well as in Texas and California. Houston, Texas and New York City claim more OB/Gyn practices than any other cities in the United States.
Ultrasound has been used for over four decades to evaluate pregnancy. In OB/Gyn practices, more than 70% of all pregnancies will undergo routine ultrasound evaluations, which can reduce:
Labor induction costs
Undiagnosed major fetal anomalies
Ultrasound is also very beneficial for women who are suffering from gynecological disorders and diseases. Ultrasound is used to diagnose ovarian cysts, lesions, gynecological cancer as well as infertility issues.
Fertility Specialists use ultrasound on a daily basis within their practices to determine and treat causes of infertility. These include ultrasound-based techniques such as:
Saline sonohysterography – This procedure allows the OB/Gyn to see inside of the uterus as if with a camera. This view allows abnormalities such as polyps, fibroids and uterine anomalies that normally would not have been seen. Many cases that would have resulted in a traditional hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) such as fibroids have now been managed non-invasively.
There are many new advances in Ultrasound Technology, especially within the OB/Gyn field. Those Ultrasound Techs that have specialized in this area will be highly sought after for their expertise in this diagnostic field.