A sonographer trainee assists upper-level sonographers in radiology tasks, learning how to work with patients and sonography equipment, analyze procedure results, take measurements and properly document all work done. Although much of her work is hands-on, these medical workers also take classes to learn about the body and sonography methods and tools. They often perform peripheral tasks such as organizing equipment, as well.
In terms of coursework, a sonographer trainee takes classes such as anatomy, biology and physiology, which provides a trainee with a basic understanding of body structure and functioning. Chemistry and physics classes also reveal how processes work within the body and how different sonography equipment affects tissues. Classes related to the use of sonography equipment show a sonographer trainee how and when to use different tools. Learning about other topics such as medical ethics is also standard.
During clinical hands-on training, the sonographer trainee learns to engage the sonography patient, asking questions to determine medical history or explaining how a specific sonography procedure will proceed. They also learn how to position the patient properly. If necessary, they immobilize the patient through tools such as supportive braces.
Working under an upper-level sonographer, a sonographer trainee also learns to operate sonography equipment. Although equipment varies depending on the trainee's focus, basic equipment the trainee learns to use include video equipment and high frequency transducers. The trainee also learns how to do basic troubleshooting of the equipment, although he is not responsible for major maintenance.
Once the trainee has obtained an image, he learns how to label and measure elements within the image. This is a very important skill, because measurements often indicate the progression or recession of disease or injury. The trainee also learns how to analyze what he sees in the image based on current medical and other scientific knowledge.
Another critical element of work for a sonographer trainee is learning how to document and report activities and results the right way. Although the sonographer trainee is not qualified to offer a diagnosis, the way she presents information about the patient, the procedure and the images affects the ease with which the physician can assess results. The trainee may learn how to use specific forms or what content to include in formal reports for the physician.
Sonographers at the trainee level often help upper-level sonographers with other tasks in the radiology and sonography department. For instance, they might send correspondence to patients or liaise with the scheduling department. They sometimes show patients to and from lobbies or waiting rooms, help track sonography equipment and other inventory and keep the sonography areas organized and clean. These tasks help sonography workers operate efficiently.