For a certified ultrasound technician, the path to a sonography career will certainly require periodic continuing medical education, referred to as ultrasound CME, in order to maintain certifications in good standing. ARDMS credentials require a minimum of 30 ultrasound CME credits from approved sponsors within each three-year certification period.
Free Ultrasound CME Credits
Many organizations offer free ultrasound CME credits for certified sonographers on a variety of topics including breast and vascular sonography. Each certified sonographer is responsible for ensuring that online transcript and contact information in the ARDMS database is accurate and current. Although free CME for ultrasound is available at conferences and work-related venues, free online courses such as those offered on General Electric’s GE Healthcare website are a popular means of fulfilling CME requirements.
There are some good sources for free CMEs:
- Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
- GE Healthcare
Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) is an organization dedicated to advancing, recognizing, and educating member-sonographers. Membership has many benefits including updates on what CME opportunities are available. Members take advantage of the free CME tracker. A side-benefit of using the tracker is automatic updating with ARDMS.
Membership costs $160; advanced practice sonographers pay $197. As a member, getting a free ultrasound CME is easy. Members automatically receive a subscription to The Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JDMS). Subscribers log on and take a JDMS test for a free CME credit.
The JDMS gives sonographers a way to stay current on a monthly basis. It has more than just articles about cutting-edge technology and trends. Each issue includes an article created as a free, online, and ARDMS-approved CME.
American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) came into being in 1952, close to the time ultrasound began. The organization’s members include doctors, sonographers, scientists, health care equipment providers, and insurers. The AIUM believes in advancing the science of ultrasound and considers it a medical art. The safe, effective use of the technology is something the organization promotes.
Membership in the AIUM
Sonographers living in the United States pay $140 for a 12-month membership. The AIUM provides opportunities for earning ARDMS-approved CME credits. Because AIUM serves multiple disciplines, not every activity is appropriate for ultrasound.
Membership comes with a subscription to the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (JUM). The subscription offsets the cost of joining; the publication without membership costs $340. Readers stay current on the latest technology while taking advantage of a free ultrasound CME; each issue includes two or three tests. Subscribers download the results; a score of 70 percent or higher earns the credit.
A multinational company, Philips makes diagnostic medical equipment. The company has a reputation for providing cutting-edge technology. Education is one of the corporation’s core values. Philips learning center complements the business by educating people who work with medical diagnostic equipment. Students take advantage of both hands-on and online classes.
The company offers continuing education for a variety of medical fields, including sonography. There is no membership fee, however, the firm charges for classes. The company regularly offers free courses. For the year 2013 there are five free courses available. Learners study online at their convenience.
SonoWorld is a great place for professional sonographers. Access is free. There are articles about the profession. The online organization provides case studies that come from actual patients. Users see the ultrasound images and video. Each case includes a discussion of the case and a final diagnosis.
SonoWorld offers ultrasound CME credits. Ultrasound professionals watch a video and take a test online. The video is available for unlimited repetitions before taking the post-test. SonoWorld only charges a nominal fee after participants pass the test. They also offer free CME credits.
GE Healthcare is a global corporation in the business of making technologically advanced medical diagnostic machinery. GE Healthcare provides education opportunities for the machines they make. Sonographers who work with the firm’s equipment qualify to participate in classes at GE Ultrasound Academy. Participants earn up to 13 CME credits.
The firm also offers free online CME credits. The credits are SDMS approved. The current opportunities are available at the corporation’s website.
Managing continuing education is important for ultrasound professionals. It is best to establish a reasonable pace. Averaging one CME credit per month allows for an easy third year during each sonography certification period. The last thing sonographers want is to frantically try to catch up at the last minute. Membership in a professional organization has many benefits, and the cost may be tax-deductible. Plus, sonographers regularly need convenience and a free ultrasound CME.
ARDMS Sonographer Certification
What is the Three-Year Certification Period?
Once a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer becomes an ARDMS Registrant, the three-year CME period begins. However, sonographers should note the CME period is calendar-year based, meaning anyone who is credentialed during the calendar year will add that time to the three-years. This is important to know because it impacts the start and end dates of the three-year period.
For example, if a sonographer is credentialed September 30, 2014, the three-year period will run from September 30, 2014 to December 31, 2017. On January 1, 2018, a new three-year CME period would start but would match the calendar years. During each three-year CME time period, the sonographer must complete the required CME credits.
ARDMS Audit Policy
ARMDS conducts a random audit of a percentage of Registrants each year, with the pool consisting of sonographers that had three-year CME periods ending. If audited, the ARDMS will request the sonographer to send in documentation of CMEs. Otherwise, the sonographer does not have to submit CME documentation but is responsible for maintaining the CME documentation for four years. However, the ARDMS does get automatic notification of CMEs completed when the credits were offered by:
- The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ADMS)
- The American Society of Echocardiography (ASE)
All CMEs reported to ARDMS are included on the CME transcript.
How to Maintain ARRT Certification?
ARRT certification is maintained through annual re-registration in the sonographer’s birth month. To meet the requirements for maintaining registration, sonographers can earn 24 approved CME credits or pass a primary or post-primary exam in a topic related to sonography that they have not already passed and for which they are eligible. Many employers and some state licensing authorities require ARRT certification and may require current ARRT registration as well.
What are Required by CCI?
As with ARDMS, CCI requires credential renewal on a three-year cycle. For Registry Level Registrants, 36 CME units including 30 on cardiovascular topics must be completed in each three-year registration period. For Certified Level Registrants, the requirement is 16 CME units every three years. CME requirements may be waived for sonographers successfully retake their specialty exam or another registry-level examination.