The school directory below includes 214 local universities, colleges and schools in the United States, which offer CAAHEP accredited diagnostic medical sonography programs as of 2015. There are a few schools offering accredited online ultrasound programs for students who prefer distance education. The programs include general sonography programs, cardiac sonography programs, vascular sonography programs and Pediatric Cardiac sonography programs. The school directory is updated in Oct 2015.
Using the Directory
Students should start by looking for ultrasound programs in particular locations or at particular schools. They can also look for programs based on the type of degree that they want to earn. The school directory provides links to school websites. While this website strives to maintain accurate and updated information, students should double-check both the degrees offered and the institute’s contact information.
Does Accreditation Matter?
When students choose accredited ultrasound technician schools, they receive the best training that can equip them for a lifetime of success. Training programs should have accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. An accredited distance education or online program can work well as long as the ultrasound technician program offers students a large block of practical clinical experience.
Each accredited program has a curriculum that follow standards set by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). The main difference between accredited and non-accredited programs is that many states will not certify a sonographer that does not graduate from an accredited program. After completing an accredited sonography technician program and passing an exam, students earn ultrasound certification or licensure in their states.
Is Distance Learning Possible? (with Online Ultrasound School List)
Three institutions offer distance learning programs that allow students to complete online coursework leading to a certificate or degree in medical diagnostic sonography. Clinical internships must be completed at an approved health care facility.
- Washburn University in Kansas and Jackson University in Michigan help distance learners find approved clinical placements in areas convenient to the student.
- Adventist University offers a bachelor’s degree in sonography but assumes that the student is already a registered sonographer. Clinical placement is not part of the ultrasound technician program.
- University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee offers a bachelor’s degree that allows students to complete coursework online and offers three sites to complete the clinical requirements.
After completing a program in medical diagnostic sonography or one of its specialties, students can take examinations through ARDMS to become a registered diagnostic medical sonographer.
Click the links to learn more about available online sonography programs by school:
How to Become an Ultrasound Technician?
Sonographers usually earn at least an associate degree or a postsecondary certificate. They may also earn professional ultrasound certification or state licensure related to a specialty. High school students interested in sonography should take human anatomy, physiology and mathematics courses. The final level of education that sonographers need depends on their career goals.
- Certificate program. Sonography certificate programs provide sonography training to people who already work in related healthcare jobs, such as nursing. Sonography certificates can be earned in as little as one year.
- Associates degree. Associate degrees in sonography are sufficient for entry-level positions. Associate degrees can be earned in two years.
- Bachelors degree. A bachelor’s degree in sonography enables sonographers to become consultants or department heads. Students with a bachelors degree can also apply to a medical school. Students with an associates degree can earn a bachelors degree within two years. Otherwise, students usually complete a bachelors degree program in four years.
- Graduate degree. Graduate degrees in ultrasound technology are appropriate for students that want to teach at the university level. Advanced degrees equip students to perform specialized research and to publish their findings in medical journals. Most master’s degree programs take at least two years to complete.
- On-the-job training. Sometimes, nurses or radiologists learn sonography on-the-job. In these cases, continuing education courses can supplement experiential knowledge. Most states require sonographers to earn medical continuing education (CME) credits throughout their careers in order to retain their ultrasound technician certification.
If you are looking for sonography programs in Canada, visit accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs in Canada.
How to Become an Ultrasound Specialist?
There are more than 200 accredited programs in the United States in diagnostic medical sonography or one of its sub-disciplines of vascular, cardiac or pediatric cardiac sonography.
To be admitted into a sonography technician program, most institutions require an associate degree in an allied health field plus at least one semester of college algebra, biology, communication, human anatomy, physiology and physics. In addition to classroom work and labs, students must complete clinical internships in a healthcare setting.
General sonography examines tissues, organs and structures of the abdomen, chest, lungs, reproductive system and cardiovascular system. Program length varies between one and four years depending on the degree plan and the level of experience and academic background of a student. Students who have an allied health degree usually complete a certificate program with a clinical internship in less than two years. Bachelor’s degrees require four years of study.
Coursework in general sonography includes:
- Sonographic instrumentation
- Sonographic sectional anatomy
- Ultrasound physics
- Vascular sonography
- Medical ethics
- Imaging techniques for abdominal organs, breasts, superficial structures and obstetrics and gynecology
- Interpretation of sonography
- Patient care management
- Clinical internship
Cardiac sonography examines the heart and the muscles and veins around the heart. Studies in cardiac sonography include principles of general sonography with an emphasis on human cardiovascular structures. Approximately 70 programs accredited by CAAHEP offer this specialization. Course duration can be as short as 12 months as at Loma Linda University in California or 14 months at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, but most are 18 months as at Kaiser Permanente in California.
Courses specific to cardiac sonography include:
- Adult echocardiography
- Pediatric echocardiography
- Echocardiographic evaluation of pathology
- Anatomy, pathology and cardiovascular disorders of the heart
- Doppler imaging
- Clinical internship
Vascular sonography specializes in the vascular system including veins, the heart and lymphatic system. More than 60 accredited programs are available nationwide. Some accredited ultrasound technician schools combine vascular sonography with general sonography while others offer separate programs. Coursework includes principles of general sonography and cardiovascular structures. Programs range from 12 to 27 months depending on the degree plan.
Courses specific to vascular sonography include:
- Vascular technology
- Vascular sonography
- Sonography of soft tissues and superficial glands
- Vascular physics
- Cerebral vascular evaluation
- Doppler ultrasound imaging
- Clinical internship
Pediatric Cardiac Sonography
Pediatric cardiac sonography focuses on cardiac structures and abnormalities of children. Two institutions, Alvin Community College in Texas and the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, offer a specialty in pediatric cardiac sonography. Many programs nationwide include the sub-discipline as part of cardiac sonography. In addition to coursework in general sonography and cardiac sonography, topics in pediatric cardiac sonography include:
- Neonatal and pediatric patient care
- Congenital heart disease
- Diagnostic electrocardiography
- Pediatric electrocardiography techniques
- Clinical internship
Is a Career as an Ultrasound Technician Right for You?
Ultrasound is a non-invasive and cost-effective way to diagnose diseases, detect birth defects and enhance surgical procedures. Becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer gives students the chance to harness cutting edge medical technology that could enable a patient to receive lifesaving treatments.
As of 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that sonography jobs will grow by 44 percent through the end of the decade, which is much faster than growth in other professions. Employment of ultrasound technologists is expected to grow faster than other related healthcare occupations. Sonographer median salary, according to the BLS, was either $67,530 annual or $32.47 hourly in 2014. You may want to compare sonographers with related healthcare occupations.
What Does a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Do?
Different structures and different types of body tissues reflect sound waves in distinctive ways. A sonographer uses sound waves generated by an ultrasound machine to examine the inner workings of a patient’s body. Ultrasound in pregnancy is one of the well-known uses of sonography. These machines work by sending high-frequency sound waves into the body through a handheld transducer. As the sonographer passes the transducer over a body part, a computer transforms reflected sound waves into images.
A sonographer’s duties depend on his or her work environment, but most sonographers spend large portions of the workday on their feet. Many sonographers work in hospitals, but a few work in an imaging clinic or with a physician in private practice. Sonographers must be strong enough to lift patients on and off of an examining table. They also need full use of their shoulders, wrists and hands. Additionally, they need good visual acuity and the ability to distinguish subtle differences between sounds. Watch videos about sonographer education and careers.
What Do Ultrasound Technologists Do During a Typical Workday?
Sonographers assist a wide range of patients from those that are healthy to those that are critically ill. Many choose a specialization, such as obstetrics or cardiac sonography. All sonographers deliver both oral and written summaries of their findings, alerting doctors to potential irregularities as they evaluate and review ultrasound images. They must also record an accurate medical history for each patient and provide top-notch patient care.
By using their skills to evaluate diagnostic studies, sonographers determine whether patients need additional tests. Many sonographers also catalog patient images in a picture archiving and communication system, or PACS. New ultrasound technologies include mobile wireless transducers and advances in 3D and 4D imaging. Some machines can merge ultrasound images with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans to diagnose hard-to-find tumors or lesions.
Successful sonographers enjoy working with people, embrace new technology and make a difference in people’s lives. As researchers find more applications for ultrasound, sonographers can expect a lifetime of learning and professional growth.
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