FAQ for New Grads

Hi guys! The last post I published was a FAQ for Sonography students and y’all really seemed to enjoy it! I heard back from some of you and was so glad you guys found it helpful. Speaking of that, I need your help! Like I have said before, I put a lot of thought and time into organizing content. Sometimes I don’t really receive much verbal feedback, but the post’s views are off the charts for weeks after it’s been published, so I know people are reading it! When this happens, it’s hard for me to gage what people are liking. So, rather than just relying on the post’s statistics when it comes to figuring out what to write about next,  it would be super helpful just to hear from you guys after you read a post. Whether it’s on here or IG, whether it’s just a simple “I read this & loved it!” or “I’d love to see more ______”  — anything is helpful & appreciated, not to mention, encouraging as well! Help me help you, ya know? 😉

SO — today I am going to tackle some of the most FAQ I recieve from new grads. I tried to answer the questions I have gotten the most. As always, these are just my opinions and experiences. I encourage you to do your own research beyond this blog and get as much information as possible  🙂 Lets get to it!

What boards should I get first?

First off, let me say that this is entirely up to you, and varies depending on your circumstances. For example, if you just got hired in an OB clinic, chances are, you should take your OB boards before any other exam. If you’re going to try to get hired on to the Vascular department at your clinical site, you should probably take RVT first, etc.

Personally, I took OBGYN first. I took it almost immediately upon graduating (read my study tips here!) and felt like that was a good decision for me. OBGYN was the topic I had the most experience with in clinicals because we did SO many pelvics & OB’s. It was also the area I felt most confident in scanning, as well as the most knowledgable in when it came to book smarts. It just came easiest to me! After OBGYN, I began studying for the Vascular board and took that 6 months later. I chose to do RVT before Abdomen because being an RVT was more beneficial to me at my job, rather than adding another RDMS certification, like I would be doing if I took the Abdomen board. Typically, techs who are RVT’s are paid more, as well as being able to perform a lot more exams, like venous insufficiencies, transplants, renal artery stenosis, etc. I plan to take Abdomen sometime in the future just to accomplish a personal goal of having all 3 🙂

Is getting RVT really that important?

In my opinion, yes. I think there maybe was a time before now when having your RVT was a super added bonus, but not necessarily required. As opposed to now, it is almost required everywhere (in my experience) and hard to find a job that doesn’t at the very least “prefer” someone who is a RVT. I think because the field is so saturated, not having your RVT sets you behind. You want to get as many licenses as you can, but Vascular is like the golden ticket.

Are there opportunities to advance in the field?

Not really… at least, not like a normal job where you climb the corporate ladder. You can obtain more boards, or become a supervisor/lead of a department once you’ve had many years of experience, but once you’re a sonographer,  I don’t feel like there are any “promotions”.

How hard was RVT?

Pretty freakin hard. 😂😂 It’s like physics + physiology + anatomy + pathology got together and made a monster child. LOL. BUT, I will say, I found it to be a lot like the SPI in that it was concept-based. If you understand the materials conceptually, you should pass.

What are the hours like as a sonographer?

They are truly all over the place, depending on the shift you work. You can do 4-ten hour shifts, 3 twelve-hour shifts, 5 eight-hour shifts, etc. You can work nights (7pm-7am) or days or a mix of both.

I personally do 4 ten hour shifts. My days start early and end late, but the extra day off each week makes it worth it.

Do you work in outpatient or a hospital?

I work in an outpatient facitilty.

What is the difference of working in outpatient vs. a hospital setting?

In an outpatient setting, you are seeing a mixture of patients who have both acute and chronic conditions. For example, we see tons and tons of patients for chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. We scan them usually every 6 months to a year and follow their conditions & compare with the prior exam. In addition to our patients who have chronic illnesses, we also see patients for acute conditions — DVT’s, new onset of abdominal pain, etc. There are no beds, no nurses, no doctors (besides radiologists) in my center. It is strictly an imaging facility, where patients are referred to by their physicians to get X-rays, CT’s, MRI’s, Ultrasounds, etc.

In a hospital, you are scanning patients who are admitted patients (or are in the ER). Some patients are battling chronic conditions, but you are usually working with people who are in the hospital due to acute circumstances – they are post surgery, post trauma, new onset of illness, etc. A lot more of your cases are going to be emergent/STAT because you are working in that setting. You will get to see a large scope of pathologies and perform a plethora of exams because you are where the sickest people come to get better!

Pros & Cons of each?

I’m sure this answer would change depending on who you asked and where they’ve worked, so here are mine:

My Hospital Pros: 

  • exposure to crazy pathologies & scenarios
  • great for learning
  • flexible hours (12 hour shifts, 8 hour shifts, etc).
  • (if) multiple techs on — work load can sometimes be divided & conquered rather than all taken on by YOU… AKA — more rest for your arm!

My Hospital Cons:

  • can work with multiple or varying offsite radiologists
  • working weekends, nights holidays
  • being on call
  • portable exams
  • can be more stressful than outpatient when ultrasound is needed in multiple floors at once ( L + D, ER, ICU, etc).
  • good ergonomics can be compromised when trying to scan a patient who is hooked up to multiple machines, difficult to move, etc.

My Outpatient Pros:

  • weekends & most holidays off, no nights, no call (for me, at least!)
  • consistent weekly schedule
  • having my own room & daily schedule
  • working with the same radiologist & learning to adhere to their standards
  • building relationships with patients I frequently see
  • having patients who are (usually) sober & clean 😉

My Outpatient Cons:

  • high daily patient volume
  • little time between patients for cleaning up, setting up & writing reports
  • having to remain on schedule despite late patients or unforeseen circumstances

How much do sonographers make?

This is hard because it really does vary depending on the location, the job, etc. I can really only speak to the pay in SoCal. I know new grads that have started out in the $30-35/hour range and I know experienced sonographers who make anything between $36-63/hour. Again, big gaps in pay because it varies who you work for, what you can do, and where you work.

That being said, if you are a new grad, you take any amount offered to you at your first job..even if its $15 an hour and feels insulting compared to what your friends are making. You are a new grad with no experience, so you aren’t entitled to anything. Take whatever comes your way and work your way up from there. 🙂

Hope this Q+A was helpful! As I said earlier, please feel free to let me know what you thought, what you loved, or what you’d like to see more of on the next post! Love y’all!


5 thoughts on “FAQ for New Grads

  1. I think this blog is the greatest thing on the internet. It is very hard to find sonographer info from people in the field. There are mostly nurses and Pa’s on Instagram and the blogging world I wish there was more ultrasound info! I love this post so much. I begin school in January so any tips of begging to scan or how to handle patient care or difficult situations would be helpful. This post and all of your posts so far are so good and full of important info. Toni – you are killing it. Keep it up.


      1. I’m serious. Please keep it up. I get so much info from you even though I’m in Virginia. It is very helpful to get info from you because you are living this life. You’re the best!

        Liked by 1 person

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