If asked to name one important factor to consider while selecting a sonography program, it would be this: Attend a CAAHEP accredited program. That immediately narrows the list, but the student is still left with over 200 high-quality diagnostic sonography programs that are available as of 2017. To narrow the list further, it is necessary to consider other factors like school features, finances, location and interests.
Decide What is Most Important Concerning Sonography Program
Important considerations to keep in mind while deciding the best diagnostic sonography program to attend include the following.
Students should only consider attending a sonography program that is CAAHEP accredited. If in doubt, read comments made on the online forums in which hundreds of students state they regret attending a non-accredited ultrasound technology program.
The two main reasons for regret are:
- They offer the highest quality programs
- Even if the student gets ARDMS registration, employers will almost always consider job applicants who graduated from a CAAHEP accredited program ahead of those who did not.
Particular Degrees or Certificates
Every sonography program does not offer every possible degree. For example, assume a student lives in Florida and wants a bachelor’s degree with a cardiac concentration. All the CAAHEP accredited programs offer a cardiac concentration, but only one offers a bachelor’s degree sonography program in Florida – American College for Medical Careers.
If the student wants to attend all four years at the same college in Florida, it is possible to quickly narrow the list of potential programs in this manner. However, there are 14 other states offering a Bachelor’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Many students attend school out of state. The Ultrasound Technology Center has made it easy to search by degree.
If the one bachelor’s degree program in ultrasound technology in Florida is full and not accepting new students, another option is to complete the first two years of study at a local community college or university and attend a sonography program at a different school in Florida or one of the other 13 states. This will enable the student to remain near home for the first two years of college while minimizing expenses.
Training in Specialties
Every sonography program does not offer every possible specialty. For example, a California sonography student interested in specializing in pediatric cardiac sonography would first consider the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno because it has a CAAHEP accredited program in pediatric cardiac. A North Carolina student who wants to specialize in vascular sonography would have two choices out of the eight in-state ultrasound technician schools in NC: Johnston Community College in Smithfield and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville.
The Ultrasound Technician Center has made it easy to search Diagnostic Sonography programs and schools. Students can scan across over 200 ultrasound schools to identify the ones offering the type specialty training desired.
Clinical Training Locations
The sonography clinical training locations are a very important concern because students will
- rotate between locations, and
- need reliable transportation to the clinical sites. Students need to research the program’s clinical locations and make a plan to ensure private or public transportation is available.
Once ARDMS accreditation is earned, students usually are anxious to find an ultrasound job. Many of the colleges and universities have staff who will help the sonography student find employment. Review the employment statistics for ultrasound programs which will vary from program to program. They are usually posted online to meet Department of Education requirements for schools offering financial aid. If they are not posted online, students can contact the program via email or telephone.
Decide What is Important Concerning School
Students earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography will earn the equivalent of credits needed for an associate degree before starting the ultrasound technology program. Therefore, they need to consider what is important to them concerning school features, services and characteristics.
There are a number of factors to consider. The following list is not comprehensive but serves as a starting point for school reviews.
Freshmen classes often have a high student-to-faculty ratio because classes are held in big lecture rooms. However, if the average ratio for the school is high, the student can expect large classes during the sophomore year also. Some people like the big, impersonal classrooms, but some need a smaller setting for ideal learning conditions.
There are several ways to investigate school reputations.
Another research strategy is to visit online student forums and social media sites. For example, Armstrong State University in Savannah, GA offers a baccalaureate degree in sonography and is CAAHEP accredited. To learn more about the school, spend some times reading the social media sites which include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each school has links on their home page.
Size of the School
There are large, medium and small universities. Some people like the hustle and bustle of a large university or college, while others may find the excessive amount of activity stressful. Each school shares the total enrollment numbers.
Of course, the location is important. Students willing to consider attending an out-of-state diagnostic sonography program will have a much larger set of programs to consider. That can be important when the local programs have a small class capacity. There are two CAAHEP online sonography programs, but some on-campus attendance is required in several of the offered programs and clinical training may require traveling a long distance from the student’s home.
Meeting Personal Needs
Each ultrasound student should consider personal needs and what is required to maintain good health. For example, if a student is diabetic, she or he will prefer the schools that have a highly-rated on-campus health services center. If the student needs off-campus housing, then factors like the number and quality of apartments near campus and rental rates should be researched.
There is also the issue of safety should the student need to walk back-and-forth between home base and campus. Also, students who have special interests will want to investigate the available student clubs.
Completing one of the diagnostic sonography programs is the first step towards starting an exciting career. The school and program experience should be an enjoyable one that broadens horizons and conveys the knowledge needed to do an excellent job once employed. Though there are a lot of factors to consider during selection process, taking the time to work through personal needs and to understand how to select the ideal accredited medical sonography programs for consideration is just smart planning.
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