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An echo technician performs ultrasounds on the heart, assisting the physician with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that relate to the cardiovascular system. In order to become an echo technician, a person can attend a post-secondary school in order to obtain an associate degree in this particular field. Standard courses in an echo technician program include classes in anatomy and physiology, pathology, medical terminology, and ultrasound physics. The standard courses in addition to basic education courses must be taken by a student if he or she wishes to become an echo technician.
Associate degree programs in this field can be completed in two years. The program usually includes opportunities to work in hospitals in order to receive hands-on experience. Those with high school diplomas who wish to become an echo technician may sometimes be able to receive on-the-job training for an echo technician position, but most employers prefer to hire a candidate with a degree in echo technology or a similar field.
It's the responsibility of the echo technician to capture images inside the body by using special ultrasound equipment. These images are used by the physician to determine if the patient is suffering from a disease. The echo technician must ensure that the images are clear and easily viewed by the doctor. The technician may also consult with the patient in order to compile a medical history for him or her.
Anyone who wishes to become an echo technician can work in several areas. Graduates of a program can work as pediatric echo technicians or adult echo technicians. Pediatric echo technicians perform sonograms on children in order to determine if young patients are suffering from heart disease. Technicians who choose to work with children must complete additional courses and register with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Technicians can choose to work primarily with adult patients and become an adult echo technician. Using ultrasound procedures, the technician will diagnose heart muscle and coronary artery disease in adult patients. Whether echo technicians work with children or adults, they must be skilled at using ultrasound equipment and have the ability to work closely with the physician in order to diagnose diseases. Since they deal with patients on a daily basis, they must possess strong communication skills and the ability to treat patients in a kind but professional manner.
Once an echo technician builds a sufficient amount of experience, he or she may choose to become a lead echo technician. This higher-level technician supervises other echo technicians, ensuring that all technicians comply with established procedures and regulations. Lead echo technicians earn higher salaries than regular echo technicians since they assume a leadership role within the medical facility.