Is sonography school really as difficult as some think? That is one of the most popular forum questions because people do not want to start a program they might not finish. The truth is that accredited sonography schools set high standards that must be met, but each year thousands of students successfully finish their programs. Anyone interested in sonography, but filled with doubt, should discuss concerns with sonography program staff and get the facts.
So Many Questions About Sonography School
A potential student is reviewing sonography programs in Indiana and reads about prerequisites, looks over the curriculum and peruses the online student handbook. At the end of the review process the student goes online and asks the following question: Is the sonography program really as difficult as it sounds?
It is understandable that some students begin to worry that they are not prepared to complete an intensive and comprehensive CAAHEP accredited program in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The requirements for sonography school include passing difficult courses in anatomy and physiology, mathematics and physical sciences. They must also complete months of full-time clinical training, often under stressful conditions. Students must learn to work with a variety of people experiencing various medical issues, some life-threatening.
Following are some real questions and/or comments found on online forums:
- I really want to be an ultrasound technician, but am very worried that the schooling is too difficult for me.
- I am not good at math. How much algebra is required in ultrasound technology programs? Will I use a lot of math on the job?
- Why do I have to take physics to be a sonographer? I am not sure I can pass a college-level physics class because I did not do well in the high school class.
- Is the sonography program as intense as it sounds?
- Is the clinical training tiring?
- I was wondering if doing an ultrasound scan really is safe?
- Is the curriculum as hard as it sounds? I have a young child and am not sure I can balance school and motherhood at the same time.
- How long will it take to complete the program because I am in a hurry to start working?
The questions are legitimate, and most of these concerns are addressed in the many Ultrasound Technician Center articles under the education and careers tabs. Understanding exactly what is being undertaken when deciding to attend one of the top schools for sonography is important. The knowledge can relieve many of the concerns.
Difficult but Worth the Effort
Here are some facts about the sonography programs:
- It does take time to complete a program. One of the best choices is a program leading to an Associate Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. It takes two years to complete, but the degree from a CAAHEP accredited program qualifies the sonography student to take the ARDMS exams. Most programs require the student to concentrate on completing all the prerequisites before starting the sonography core curriculum, taking some of the pressure off the student.
It takes less time to earn an Associate degree than a Bachelor’s degree in sonography, but it lays the foundation for getting a four-year degree in the future, if desired. There are some shorter certificate programs for sonography students, but many are designed for people who have already earned an Allied Health degree or have experience working as a healthcare professional.
- It is necessary to take required courses like physiology, anatomy, physics, sonography instrumentation and medical terminology. There are plenty of study aids available should these classes prove to be challenging. It is very helpful to develop a strong foundation in algebra, but that is usually the highest difficulty level involved.
- The ultrasound technology program is much easier to manage when the student does not work. In fact, many programs have a requirement that the student not work while attending because the training requires a student’s full attention. It is true that there is a great volume of material to master.
- Students with family or care giving obligations need to set aside a place that is dedicated as a place of study. Many mothers attend sonography schools, but they plan well ahead, arranging babysitters and asking family members and friends for help. Advance planning can go a long way towards making program management easier.
- Sonography students will learn the technicalities of the job, as well as patient care techniques, so clinical training is critical. Clinical training is full-time, can be strenuous and may be stressful since it is a real-world setting. The student is never alone though. The training is always completed under supervision.
Just as important as the ability to complete the coursework and clinical training is the willingness to have close contact with people on a regular basis. Ultrasound technologists do much more than scan fetuses. They often come in contact with patients who have wounds, infections and diseases. Passing physics and math classes is important, but the knowledge gained is of little use if it cannot be effectively applied in the medical setting.
Talk to the Right People
The sonography school program teaches students everything they need to know in order to enjoy an excellent career. The training program is intentionally rigorous because sonographers must be able to perform their duties with the highest skills and competency. Asking questions on forums is one way to get other perspectives. However, it is wise to talk to program faculty, or someone who has completed the program, to get a more in-depth picture of what the sonography program entails.