Every decision has consequences, and that includes the decision to attend one of the ultrasonography programs that is not accredited by the CAAHEP. The reasons for making this decision may seem valid at the time, but the decision comes with training and career risks. It is important to understand that schools that offer sonography programs will always present their programs in the best light in order to encourage enrollments. Learning to read clues can help with decision-making.
Clues Should Provoke Questions
Websites do not always tell the whole story. Some leave out bits of information that are important to decision-making. For example, the program website may mention the student will be eligible to take the ARDMS exam, but it does not give any details. It is a clue that there is a good chance the student must complete additional training after graduation just to become eligible to sit for the exams. The questions asked should be: How much more training is needed? What kind of training does it need to be?
Another indication the school or program is not disclosing information is when there is an unwillingness to reveal statistics. For example, do the websites offer sonographer employment statistics? If not, there is probably a reason why they are missing. It could mean a majority of the graduates from the ultrasound degree programs remain unemployed six months to a year after graduation, and the programs do not want potential students to know that fact.
CAAHEP accredited sonography programs always include clinical training. The students reading the program website should ask: Is on-the-job (clinical) training a requirement for program completion? In fact, CAAHEP accredited programs have strict admission requirements to maintain the quality of students admitted. Sonography programs that have limited prerequisites or very lenient program enrollment requirements are probably not CAAHEP accredited.
Some students will go ahead and attend a non-CAAHEP accredited program because program graduates are finding local employment. However, what if a person is able to find employment in the area, despite graduating from a sonography program that is not CAAHEP accredited, but then moves to another place where competition for jobs is more intense?
Why Students Do Not Follow Good Advice
There are plenty of people who intentionally chose to attend one of the ultrasonography programs in 2017 that was not accredited by the CAAHEP. Common reasons included:
- It is the program closest to home
- There was no waiting list
- Student was unwilling to wait to enter a CAAHEP accredited program
- Student wrongly believes everything the website says about the quality of the program
- There is a lack of understanding of the valid reasons for CAAHEP accredited programs being considered the best
- Person believes the quotes or testimonials on the website just because they are made by health care professionals
- Students do not recognize that some ultrasound training programs were started only for business reasons (make a profit)
- Non-accredited program has lower tuition and fees
- Sonography program is shorter
- Student assumes it will be easy to meet clinical training requirements after completing the sonography program
Colleges must have students enrolled in order to survive. Quite honestly, not all of them are entirely forthcoming in the descriptions of their programs. A student commenting on an online forum even mentioned she was almost finished with her non-accredited sonography program and had only recently heard of the CAAHEP! When students decide to attend a non-accredited program, they risk:
- Not getting a top quality education in ultrasonography
- Needing additional clinical training after graduation
- Being unable to pass the ARDMS exams
- Having much greater difficulty finding employment
More information is available at the following Ultrasound Technician Center link at Non Accredited Sonography Programs.
If other school programs are accredited but the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is not, the student should question why that is true. Either the program has not made the effort to earn accreditation or is not interested. There are certain steps that must be followed to become an ARDMS registered sonographer. Read more about the process in the Ultrasound Technician Center article at here.
A program that indicates it is “planning” on pursuing CAAHEP accreditation or is in the “process” of earning accreditation is not accredited. Planning on or working on pursuing accreditation is not the same as being accredited. When a program is accredited, it will be listed on the CAAHEP website so it is important to always check.
Students considering starting one of the ultrasonography programs in 2017 still have time to reconsider their decision if the program is not CAAHEP accredited. The risks of being unable to earn ARDMS registration or to compete equally with sonographers who graduated from an accredited program are simply too high. Bottom line: Do not automatically believe everything a website says. Verify accreditation on the CAAHEP website and learn to ask the program staff all the right questions.
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