Read sonographer job descriptions, and two things stand out. First, the candidate must be a graduate of an accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. Second, the job candidate must be an ARDMS registered sonographer. Without these credentials the applicant will fall out of consideration for a job because they indicate quality training and skills development. Other reasons employers insist on ARDMS medical sonography certification include maintaining the facility reputation and reducing potential liability.
Accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography Schools: Mark of Quality
Jackson College in Michigan offered the first CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography program in the nation. The college recognized that earning CAAHEP accreditation was a mark of quality and would provide assurance the students were getting the best industry-recognized training. Students who complete the program have taken an important step towards becoming a certified sonographer.
After graduation from any CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, the student is eligible to take the ARDMS exams at the first available opportunity. Earning the ARDMS credential is important because the registered sonographer is recognized as meeting national standards of knowledge and competency.
Only two states, Oregon and New Mexico, require Diagnostic Medical Sonographers to be formally licensed. A license is issued by a government agency which decides the requirements that must be met. The ARDMS is a private agency that keeps a registry of sonographers who have passed its sonography exams. Though not a license, it serves as an equivalent and is now almost universally recognized in the U.S. as such.
Another private credentialing agency is Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) which also requires passing registry examinations. However, CCI applicants must have worked at least two years in cardiac ultrasound. Sonographers could earn registration through ARDMS as a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), work two years and then become a CCI Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS). This explains the “RDCS, RCS” appearing after the names of some sonographers.
Only ARDMS Registered Sonographers Need Apply
Most employers today require job candidates to have ARDMS registration. The ARDMS credential indicate a certain level of knowledge and skills. The registration program also requires sonographers to maintain continuing competency by completing workshop and course credits earned as required.
Medical facilities choose to only hire ARDMS registered sonographers because they know that they are well-trained, meet high standards and will participate in continuing education. However, there are more reasons for adhering to this minimum standard.
Medical facilities have a brand, just like any other business. The brand for hospitals and clinics conveys what patients can expect from services and products, equipment, customer service and much more. Medical facilities require job applicants to have completed a program at one of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography schools because having talented and qualified sonographers on board strengthens a positive brand image.
The high cost of medical malpractice insurance is well known. One of the ways to reduce the cost is by lowering the number of incidents. Hiring ARDMS registered sonographers is one strategy for ensuring the most qualified staff is employed in the imaging department.
Confidence and Trust
The medical facility feels more confident in placing its trust in credentialed ultrasound technicians. When the sonographer is ARDMS registered, the employer has confidence the staff sonographer will deliver quality imaging services to patients who depend on the facility.
Health facilities need people who are motivated, well trained in their field, have excellent communication skills and can work with a variety of people. The CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs always place an emphasis on understanding and mastering the skills and competencies needed to provide the highest quality patient related services. The programs involve much more than just learning technical skills.
Job applicants without ARDMS registration or who graduated from a non-CAAHEP accredited program are likely to find it very difficult to even get considered for an ultrasound technician position. Even if a person passes the ARDMS exams, but did not graduate from an accredited program, it could be very difficult to land an interview if there are many other candidates who have done both. It takes both to be considered a top applicant, and there are plenty of people who have both. Given the availability of online programs, there is no reason to not become a certified sonographer if that is the ideal career choice.
Desire to be the Best
Completing a CAAHEP accredited program at one of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography schools, and also taking ARDMS exams, shows initiative and a desire to be one of the best in the ultrasound technology field. That is how job candidates make it to the top of hiring lists. The truth of this statement can be verified by browsing ultrasound job descriptions and reading comments on forums dedicated to sonographers.
There are hundreds of CAAHEP accredited ultrasound technician schools available in 2017, and there is one right for each student. The excellent average sonographer salary of $48,660 for entry-level positions per the U.S. Department of Labor is an added bonus.