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Dear Debbie,

I am interested in studying to be able to perform ultrasound exams of the heart. What exactly does an echocardiographer do, and what are her duties?

– Heart Conscious

Dear Heart Conscious,

An echocardiographer is a person who specializes in the performance of diagnostic ultrasound exams of the heart. Using an ultrasound transducer to obtain 2D and Doppler information, echocardiographers anatomically and functionally evaluate the heart. This information can help physicians diagnose medical conditions and/or diseases of the heart. Echocardiography can identify areas of the heart muscle that are not contracting well, detect blood clots in the heart, check for fluid build up in the pericardium, visualize problems with the aorta, and identify congenital abnormalities.

Dear Debbie,

I would really like to work as a freelance sonographer. I think that going to different physician’s offices or medical clinics to perform ultrasound examinations would be perfect for me! I have just graduated and passed my ARDMS examinations. What’s the best way to get started?

– Dreaming Big

Dear Dreaming Big,

I commend you for your entrepreneurial spirit! Working as a freelance sonographer is a great way to go if you want more control over your time, and like to work with more autonomy. The good news is that you know where you want to go, now let’s talk about the best way to get there. Since you are a recent graduate, I would recommend that you start by working in a hospital or imaging center where you can continue to learn, and have the support of experienced radiologists and sonographers. Remember that when you are working free-lance, there will probably be no radiologist or anyone who can help you if you have questions. You have to feel comfortable working totally on your own. By working in a hospital, you’ll not only gain valuable experience but also credibility, and will make contacts with physicians and others who are looking to hire freelance sonographers. After a few years of work, you will have the confidence and contacts you need to be ready to start your free-lance business!