JustJob Interviews: Vascular Technologist

JustJobs interviews professionals working in a variety of fields. The good folks there have given me permission to post some of their interviews here. So if you’re wondering what it’s like to work in a specific field, you might want to check in here frequently. I’ll be posting interviews as I get them.


Considered working as a Vascular Technologist? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more.

I work as a registered vascular technologist in a busy vascular laboratory. I’ve been in the field for approximately eleven years and I really love my job. I began working as a medical assistant after graduating from a technical college about fifteen years ago. I returned to school to complete my degree and earn my registry in vascular ultrasound. I chose the vascular field because I have always been interested in the circulatory system. The body’s veins and arteries are amazing and I’m still excited about exploring the vascular system.

I spend most of my days behind an ultrasound machine. The equipment varies depending on the laboratory specifications, but most machines are similar enough that a good technician can transfer from one to another easily. My work entails using an ultrasonic probe to detect tiny blockages in arteries or veins. I get the first glimpse at a blocked artery or an aneurysm that is suspected by a physician. My work is read by a vascular surgeon who then decides whether to commit to surgery or allow the patient to try medication or exercise in their rehabilitation. Patients are often annoyed when I am unable to comment on their test results. This is because until the test is reviewed by a physician, it is actually against the law for me to release results.

I think, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my job satisfaction as a seven. I love the work, I enjoy the patients and I’m intrigued by the ever-changing technology. On the other hand, I’m sometimes exhausted by the government’s regulations and constant interference in the entire medical system. It is also difficult to work with so many varied personalities. From frightened patients to arrogant doctors, you have to handle every type of person in my field. To unleash my full enthusiasm, I would love to own a part of the company that I work for. I would also love to be treated with respect by every person that I encounter.

I have excellent hearing. That sounds odd, but hearing is a huge portion of my job. Because the Doppler signal of an ultrasound machine varies according to the surface that it bounces off of, subtle changes in sound are a part of my job. My hearing is a huge benefit to me in my work and I make efforts to protect my ears at concerts and other loud events.

I got started in vascular ultrasound because I began working as a medical assistant to a vascular surgeon. This surgeon encouraged me to pursue my education and move out of a job and into a career.

I’ve learned many things the hard way in this career field. I think my most important lesson is that you can never get complacent. No matter how stable your career looks, there are always people or influences that can change things for you. I learned this when I was replaced in my job at a surgeon’s office by the wife of the surgeon. I was disappointed and annoyed to learn that no matter how good my work is, someone will always be there to replace me and not necessarily because they are better at the job.

I’ve learned many important things since graduating from school. Most important to me is the fact that all people, no matter whom, deserve the same respect and care. This is sometimes easier said than done in today’s medical profession, but it’s really important to try. I’ve gotten to be friends with many wonderful people, all of whom I’ve met as they’ve progressed through their illness or surgery.

I haven’t actually had anything very strange happen to me at work. I’ve found some unexpected tumors and oddities in my years of ultrasound, but nothing that I would consider extremely strange.

I get up and go to work each day because I love what I do. I feel good knowing that a person’s surgery will go better because of my testing. I know that many surgeons in my area choose ultrasound rather than more invasive procedures because of our excellent results. I also get up each day because ultrasound pays pretty well.

I have a stressful job in that precision is a priority. Any error in a measurement, in tiny increments of a centimeter, can change the incision point for a surgery. My measurements and findings are used to decide where and when to operate on a person. It’s a lot of pressure for anyone. If I make mistakes, my doctors lose their trust in my work. That can ruin a career. I’m able to balance my life because I limit my work schedule to four days a week. This helps me to recover from the fast pace and high pressure.

The salary range for my field varies according to location and education levels. A beginning technician can start around $40000 per year and the sky is the limit on salary. A technician can partner with a doctor to manage or own his or her own facility. This makes the field much more profitable. I feel that the pay could be a bit higher (of course), but I think that I do well in my life. I try not to live above my means and I enjoy my family and career.

I generally take about two weeks of vacation each year. I would like to take more, but it is not easy to find a good replacement. I usually take my vacation at the same time that my surgeons vacation.

You have to complete an accredited program to be hired in my field. You eventually will have to have an AS degree in diagnostic medical sonography and approximately one year of experience in the field, but these changes are still in the works. You also have to sit for registry boards depending on your location and the specifications of your job.

If I were going to recommend this field for a friend, I would tell him or her to expect to work hard. I would definitely explain the tough spot that an ultrasound technician maintains between doctors and patients. I would encourage someone to choose this career especially if they are meticulous and caring.

If I could write my own ticket, I would be raising horses on a farm in Montana. I think I would still spend some time behind an ultrasound machine, but probably not as much as I spend now. I would have loved to become a doctor, but the cost of education is pretty high.

This is a true career story as told to JobsInHealthcare.com.

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