A vascular technologist is a clinical healthcare worker who performs noninvasive evaluations on the arteries and veins of a patient's peripheral circulatory system. These healthcare workers are sometimes also referred to as vascular sonographers due to the primary type of technology — ultrasound — they use most often to perform their duties. A vascular technologist measures blood flow through veins and arteries using ultrasound and Doppler technology to assess for clots in the extremities, perfusion to the internal organs and carotid artery blockages, among other evaluations. He may take photographs, film and sound recordings of the test findings for the attending physician to study and use for diagnosis. A vascular technologist may also be cross-trained, partially or fully, as a cardiovascular technologist.
Almost 60 percent of medical sonographers are employed by hospitals for inpatient care and evaluation. The technology is usually very portable, and so most vascular technologist evaluations are conducted at the patient's bedside. For this reason, it is particularly helpful for a vascular technologist to be able help a patient relax during the evaluation. Education provided by the technologist regarding the need for the test, how it works and that it is noninvasive usually helps put the patient at ease.
A minimum of an associate's degree in the field is required to become a vascular technologist, and most US states also require certification by examination through the state's Board of Healthcare Professions. Some institutions, usually affiliated with university medical schools, offer a four-year bachelor's degree in the field. Both degrees require a core curriculum that includes human anatomy and physiology and the basics of the technology upon which the specialty is based. Following graduation from an approved program, a vascular technologist receives certification through tests administered by Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers® (ARDMS®). Depending upon the state or country's requirements, a minimum number of continuing education (CE) credits may be required in order to maintain continued certification.
Job growth appears to be positive for a career in vascular technology. Some resources anticipate a very rapid job growth of 20 percent over the next decade for the US. Part of this growth is secondary to the growing sophistication of vascular technology and its preferred status over radiographic evaluation, which exposes patients to potentially dangerous radiation. Another reason for growth in this career is the overall aging of the population and their anticipated healthcare needs.