Sonogram Schools and Colleges in the U.S.
Sonographers use special medical equipment to produce images of the inside of the human body. These images are then given to physicians for a medical diagnosis. Entry-level sonographers work in hospitals and other healthcare settings under the supervision of physicians and senior sonographers.
How to Select a Sonography School
Sonography programs can be found at community colleges and 4-year universities. Programs are available to students with healthcare experience, as well as to those with no relevant experience.
Summary of Important Considerations
- Program options
- Ultrasound equipment and hospital affiliations
- Specialty interests
- Scheduling options
Most prospective sonographers will need to complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program in sonography. These programs may be available in diagnostic medical sonography or in health sciences with a sonography concentration. Individuals that are already working as allied health professionals can complete a certificate in sonography.
These programs can qualify aspiring sonographers to sit for certification examinations through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). To be eligible for either exam, one must have completed prerequisite education and experience requirements. Choosing a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professions will ensure that all requirements are met. These certifications can allow sonographers to sit for licensure in states where being licensed is mandatory.
Ultrasound Equipment and Hospital Affiliations
Since a medical sonographer is responsible for using ultrasound machines under the supervision of a physician, the clinical aspect of the coursework is of great importance. Students will want to look for schools that have up-to-date ultrasound equipment. The school should be affiliated with a hospital or local community health center where students can assist sonographers in preparing ultrasounds for physicians and surgeons.
The ARDMS offers exams in specialty areas such as abdomen and echocardiography sonography. Students interested in being certified in a specific specialty area will want to choose a program that offers substantial coursework and clinical experience opportunities in that area.
Scheduling may be a concern to some students who wish to maintain their current employment. While most programs require a full-time commitment, there are some programs that offer classes on weekends, evenings and online.
Sonography Program Overviews
Certificate in Sonography
Most certificate programs are designed for current allied health professionals, but some also admit students who do not have extensive healthcare experience. In either case, prerequisite coursework is required in anatomy and physiology, healthcare terminology, physics, college writing and math. Curriculum coursework includes instruction in the various areas and techniques of sonography, but may not include training in all specialty areas. Multiple clinical practicums are required. Certificate programs typically take 1-1.5 years to complete. Certificate students take courses such as:
- Sectional anatomy
- Diagnostic medical sonography principles
- Vascular sonography
Associate's Degree in Sonography
Similar to certificate programs, associate's degree programs can be designed either for healthcare professionals or for novices. Prerequisite coursework is required in either case. Associate's degree programs differ from certificate programs in that they require more general education requirements and take two years to complete. Associate's degree programs may provide more in-depth instruction or more options for courses in the different specialties within sonography. Clinical practice is also required. Courses at the associate's degree-level include:
- Clinical pathology
- Obstetric and gynecological imaging procedures
- Ultrasound physics
Bachelor's Degree in Sonography
A bachelor's degree program takes four years to complete, and students must complete multiple clinical practicums. There is generally no prerequisite coursework for bachelor's degree programs. Bachelor's degree students can take courses such as:
- Physics of sonography
- Vascular sonography
- Abdonimal sonography
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