RN or Sonography?

  1. I desperately need a career change. I originally was interested in becoming an RN, which is the reason I joined this site. I know this is a nursing forum, and from previous threads I've read everyone here is so helpful so I thought I'd ask, and I'd appreciate any comments you have on this..

    Recently sonography has caught my attention, and seems very interesting to me.
    I'm worried if I go for nursing, I may become emotionally stressed and unable to handle it.. thats a huge concern of mine, especially after battling depression and anxiety... and that concern is pretty much the only thing holding me back from getting my nursing degree.
    I did shadow a nurse at a hospital and she was great at explaining everything to me, and after seeing what she did in a typical day, I felt like it was something I could do, and something that would be very rewarding at the same time. I love helping people.

    Does anyone know how hard it is to switch from one to the other? I'm not sure if the two are very much related (same courses, etc). How does salary compare?..not only starting salary, but as the years go on, how does it compare after years of experience? From the research I've done it seems there may just be more opportunities for advancement (and more pay) in nursing.. but I think I might like the idea of sonography better. But I don't want to spend my time and money in school for sonography if the jobs just arent there.. and if the pay isnt great.

    There are only 2 schools that ive looked at in my area and am considering for their sonography program, one of which is a community college and the other a trade school.
    If I do decide to go for nursing, I think I'd go to a community college.. how does that compare to a major college? I would think with the demand for nurses at this time it wouldnt matter where or what kind of school you went to to get a degree, but I'm not sure.

    Sorry im kind of all over the place with my questions, I'm just soo confused right now on what to do.

    Any help at all is greatly appreciated. Nurses I need your insight!
    Thanks a bunch
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    About jlm755

    Joined: Jul '08; Posts: 1


  3. by   Dash4JW
    I was really interested in sonography for a while, but nursing was my choice (I was an EMT and ER tech, prior to nursing school). When I checked into sonography, I found I would need a 2-year radiology technology degree and then another year for sonography. I have a friend right now who wants to be a sonographer and she is in the state of CO and can't get into a school. Of course nursing schools in CO are hard to get into also. I moved out of state and got accepted on my 1st try to a program. If I was in CO, I'd still be on some waiting list, I am sure.
    Anyways, there are so many roads you can take with nursing. With sonography, you are pretty much stuck doing the same thing. As far as a BSN versus ADN program, a BSN makes you more marketable, but an RN is an RN and you shouldn't have any problem finding a job. If you are worried about stress, again there are so many different jobs you could do besides jumping into trauma nursing or ICU. If you want something low-key, there are many opportunities available.
    With nursing, you can move up with more schooling. Go for a BSN, MSN or even DON. I am not aware of anyway to move up in sonography, except maybe a radiologists asst. But, I believe the starting pay is higher for sonographers than RN's. (At least where I am at).
    There are a few sonography schools that are 1 year long and will accept you if you have a previous 2 year allied health degree. If you decide on nursing and want to do ultrasound later, you could apply to one of those and switch to sonography. I would think doing sonography first and then trying to get into a nursing school would be a longer road. I hope all this makes sense, if you have anymore questions, feel free to e-mail me.
  4. by   jjjoy
    Quote from Dash4JW
    If you are worried about stress, again there are so many different jobs you could do besides jumping into trauma nursing or ICU. If you want something low-key, there are many opportunities available.
    Examples of low-key nursing jobs, please! Especially for the first year or two out of school before you have experience to offer in addition to the license.

    And for the low-key nursing jobs that do exist, wouldn't there be a risk of ending up pigeon-holed there because a lack of experience in the more mainstream nursing jobs? How easy is it to find and get hired to these types of jobs?

    My impression/experience is that there ARE many opportunities for nurses, but the ability to take advantage of those opportunites (the right kind of experience) and to be safe and successful (enough orientation and support when getting started) can at times be limiting factors.
  5. by   Nurseismade RN
    Hi Dash4JW,

    off course you will ultimately have to decide which profession to enter. I am an RN, but also had interest years ago to be an sonagrapher aka ultrasound tech.

    I will say this, it is not easy being a nurse, but I love it. What I dislike most is all the documentation.....I spend a lot of time charting. I love bedside nursing and my patients well being is very important to me, but I feel all the computer charting takes away time from my patients. With Ultrasound....just from observance....they seem happy but not much involvement with the patients but they do not seem rushed and spend time talking with the patients prior to ultrasound. There are different avenues once you are registered. I know cardiac ultrasound techs or cardiac echo techs make huge money. One woman I worked with prior to becomming a nurse started out at 55 per hour vs 29 per hour RN new grad pay in Boston. I also worked in the Ultrasound dept at Brighams and saw how happy the girls were.not stressed.....they got to go to the floors when patients could not come to them. They were called alot to the OR and Labor and delivery and NICU.

    A big plus as an Ultrasound Tech...they get to leave on time......
    downside.......they do not seem to leave their jobs...so not many job opportunities

    just my

    all the best

    ps I am steering my daughter into that field
    Last edit by Nurseismade RN on Aug 12, '08
  6. by   jls1967
    Just a little "food for thought". Both RN and Sonography have rewarding benefits. However, taking a closer look - depending on your area of specialty- it comes down to being part of the "caring" end or the "diagnostic" end of the patient's needs. I have more experience with Echocardiography than any other type of sonography, so that is what most of my comments will be based upon. Also, both have a lot "options" down the road if you want to continue your education.

    As far as training, again speaking from an Echo standpoint, there are some online programs offered. I know of one that I has been mentioned to me, you can look at it www.academyofultrasound.com . They are a very innovative school with new, fresh ways of training for example, they offer a "scan lab" in a seminar-type environment with limited availability due to the focus on individuals receiving the most scan training time they can before beginning clinicals.

    Whatever your decision, I wish you luck and God Bless!:wink2:
  7. by   mjenk
    I am wondering what you have decided....I am in the same predicament! I am considering nursing- I would like to go into Cardiac rehab, but I am also very interested in cardiac sonography. It is hard because there is mixed info out there. Some say to go into general sonography and specialize later, others say echo makes more money , some say i would have to work years and years on different floors as a nurse before I could specialize with something like cardiac rehab. I am 41 years old so I dont take this decision lightly. I cant afford to go to school and not bein the right program! Also, money is not the only factor, but it IS a factor. Of course after taking ten years off to raise a family I have much catching up to do financially!! ANy help, advice, input is greatly appreciated. Oh, also with echo tech I am worried i will not find a job- maybe more jobs in general(ob/gyn) ???
  8. by   Laineymke
    Hi everyone,
    I'm curious what everyone on this thread has decided. I am currently taking pre-reqs for nursing or radiography tech program (have not yet decided). I'm 38 (we have two kids) so I definitely want to get through school as efficiently as possible. My first question is job security? I'm kind of under the assumption that there is room for more growth as well as greater security for RNs as opposed to RT. I am also interested in a Sonography program, but as some of you have noticed... you cannot get into a ST unless you are already are an Rad Tech or in a Rad Tech program OR if you are already an RN, etc. Another big concern of mine is - i know nursing is a physically difficult job - I am excited about the patient care/education component but cannot forsee myself being a nurse until I'm 65. So... BSN first with Sonography degree later? Job shadow a Sonography tech (if possible)? My main goal is to be secure for the future, work in healthcare, and have room to grow to other related fields when my body starts to get angry after years of pounding the hospital/clinic floors. Haha.
    ps: what's the job market like for Rad Techs vs Nurses vs. Sogography Techs?
  9. by   dani101781
    In anwer to your question I think RN would be a more ideal choice as far as job opportunities. I am a Radiologic technologist and a sonographer. I went to x-ray school and then worked for about 6 years before going into ultrasound school. I am still only part-time in utrasound where I live in Iowa because there are just not as many ultrasound jobs as there are nursing jobs. I have actually decided to start the nursing program in January because of this. I need a more stable job that I can go anywhere with if need be and get a job.
    Hope this helps you!

  10. by   moma8gma1
    I have switched my major from nursing to sonography and am applying to two programs -- one is at a local community college and the other is through a health care system/HMO's school of allied health. I would steer clear of on-line sonography programs, as it is a hands-on program in which you'll need instructors right there to guide you with the proper equipment. (Do a search on schools and "rip off" to see if any complaints have been filed agains the school(s) you're considering before you plunk down your $.)