Once a student decides to take ultrasound tech courses it is time to plan ahead. CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs require intense focus and a major time commitment. The most successful students plan for success long before the program even starts.
Before the First Ultrasound Tech Class
It is exciting to be admitted to a sonography program whether it is a certificate program or a degree program. Once admitted, the program staff will do everything possible to help new students have a productive and enjoyable educational experience. They send emails, offer counseling sessions and make faculty and staff available for questions about sonography courses and training requirements. Students who are serious about succeeding start planning long before the ultrasound program starts.
Some sonography students fail to plan and find themselves dealing with issues concerning scheduling and money on a regular basis. This can easily detract from the ability of the student to concentrate and succeed. Addressing these matters ahead of time makes it more likely they will not interfere with the training program.
Focusing on the Serious Intent
It is a fact that students will go through great lengths to be admitted CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs but fail to make preparations in their personal lives to accommodate the program requirements. Every program accredited by CAAHEP makes a point of discussing the time commitment required because this can easily become a factor in the success or failure of a student.
It is assumed that anyone who has gone to the effort to research and apply for a sonography program has done research on the profession. The process of selecting an Allied Health career can certainly be lengthy and overwhelming so it may seem like it is a good time to sit back and take a break after program admittance. The reality is that students admitted to a CAAHEP accredited program should “up their game.” The time before the program starts is the time to make sure factors concerning time, money and personal support are in place. Waiting until the program starts will only add stress to an already stressful situation.
Taking Action Before the Program Starts
One of the points to keep in mind is that a student has spent many hours researching the educational requirements to become a sonographer. They may not share that research with family and friends because it is human nature to not burden people with this type of information. After all, family and friends are not the ones attending school. However, successful sonography students must be able to balance time and financial considerations.
What can students do before they ever begin a program in 2017 or later? Plenty! Following are some suggestions from currently enrolled or graduated sonography students.
It requires a full-time commitment to complete a sonography program. Actually, the training program requires more than full-time because students attend classes or clinical training for most of the day and then spend “spare” time doing homework. How will personal and school time commitments be met? It is easy to be cavalier about balancing time until people start asking you during the school year why you are never able to attend birthday parties or why you never seem to have time for anything related to family.
Students should take the time to assess their commitments, requirements, family obligations, and so on. Some activities can be managed by others, while some will always need your attention. Preparing in advance to balance those commitments with program activities can relieve a lot of stress during the school year.
The last thing a student wants to have to do is worry about finances. Students must be able to pay for tuition, books, transportation, uniforms, and other miscellaneous fees and expenses. However, they also need to pay for personal expenses like room and board at the school, rent or the mortgage payment; food; clothing; and medical expenses.
Financial aid is almost always available, but to qualify the student must meet all deadlines for filing the FAFSA application and meet other school requirements. There are many private sonography scholarships that can be applied for also at any time. It is critical to prepare a budget for the school year that includes school and personal expenses. Identify planned expenditures, when items like tuition and rent must be paid, and sources of income.
It is important to discuss your program with family and friends before you attend classes and review the requirements with them. They will be pleased that you are sharing your goals and are explaining why this effort is so important to your life. They need to understand that you will not always be available for personal events and will need help balancing school and non-school activities. Explaining ahead of time sets the record straight, so to speak, so people in your life know you are not ignoring them when you shut the door to the study room and are not seen for hours.
Think Sonography in Every Way
In addition to thinking in advance how personal and school lives will intersect once the ultrasound tech courses are underway, the sonography student can also spend time learning as much as possible about sonography. Students who want the best chance for success in school will do one or more of the following activities to get a jumpstart on the program.
- Research the sonography discipline including the types of procedures, technology used, latest research and other relevant material
- Read relevant journal articles written by radiologists, sonographers, MRI technicians, nuclear medicine technicians, physicians and so on to better understand the “big picture” of how ultrasound fits in the imaging and scanning world
- If possible, get permission to observe one or more sonographers at work or volunteer to work in the ultrasound technology department at the local hospital or clinic; ideally, observe sonographers working in different settings and healthcare settings
- Watch YouTube videos of procedures which provide a wealth of visual material online
- Talk to students enrolled in sonography programs about the time they spend attending classes, studying and completing clinical training hours
- Visit the school where the program is housed and meet some of the instructors and department staff, and get comfortable with classroom locations
- Decide where time will be spent studying, whether it is at the school library, a study room at home, a dorm study area or other area
- Set up the technology needed to take advantage of all the online program activities and make sure it works smoothly
It never pays to just sit for the ultrasound tech courses to start. Take the initiative and start becoming a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer the minute the program acceptance letter is in hand.