People hoping to enroll in one of the ultrasonography programs are often competing with a large group of applicants. Most accredited sonography programs in 2017 only accept a small number of students, increasing the competition for acceptance. Students should not be discouraged when unable to get into a particular training program or must wait a year for the next enrollment period. There are always schooling options to pursue, including attending another school, completing prerequisites or completing a compatible program while waiting.
Why are Ultrasonography Programs so Small?
One of the first things students learn when applying to an ultrasound program is that there are a limited number of students accepted into the program. The competitive process requires spending a lot of time completing the application and assembling supporting documentation so it is natural that student expectations are high. It is also natural to experience great disappointment when a student is not selected for admission into the program.
A good example of limited class size is the CAAHEP accredited Cape Fear Community College sonography program. The program accepts 10 students each year but has had as many as 138 applicants for a single program. This is not unusual, and especially as appreciation grows for the important role ultrasound will have in delivering quality, non-invasive healthcare services.
The question so many students have is this: Why are program enrollments so limited?
- Program quality – The CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs promise a quality educational experience, requiring one-on-one training during certain parts of the program.
- Availability of clinical sites – Most clinical sites affiliated with a sonography program will train one student at a time. Each program also has a limited number of medical facility affiliations.
- Program length – Most sonography programs require at least 18 months or more to complete. This means program faculty commit to a single program for an extended period of time. They can only manage a limited number of students because they counsel, teach and train at clinical sites.
- Availability of faculty – Sonography programs are designed so that didactic courses are taken in a specific sequence. Faculty often teach more than one class in addition to their other duties. It would be difficult for them to start new programs each semester and continue to provide the needed attention students require. Each program has a limited number of faculty and the class size limitations take this into consideration.
Once a student decides to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, it is important to have a clear understanding of the application process, the number of students that will selected and the expected start date. The student can then prepare alternate plans should the program of choice not be available.
Finding Options when Preferred Program is Full
When a student cannot get into a desired sonography program, there are several options.
Find Another Program
Many students will first apply to the nearest CAAHEP accredited sonography program. Unfortunately, the nearest may be the fullest. However, there are hundreds of sonography programs in the country, and students can contact the programs to find one or more with openings.
The Ultrasound Technician Center has developed a list of schools offering CAAHEP accredited sonography programs in 2017. Students can consider ultrasonography colleges based on distance by accessing the list of ultrasound technician schools by state that was also prepared by our website. Most of the schools offer state and local financial aid, and access to sonography scholarships.
Work on General Education Requirements
Students who have been admitted to a program with a start date a year away or who are placed on a waiting list for consideration during the next round, can work on remaining prerequisites and some of the general education requirements. These courses are also called major support courses, and are required for program graduation.
Delaware Technical Community College will even give an applicant additional points for ranking purposes if the major support courses are completed. The support courses are usually classes like Anatomy and Physiology, Critical Thinking and Academic Writing, Human Development and others.
Check out Online Programs
There are two schools offering online sonography programs. They are Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas; and Jackson College in Jackson, Michigan. It is possible the student can complete one of the online programs or take some relevant classes online. However, the student will have to complete required clinical training at clinical sites approved by the school.
Complete a compatible program
Students can pursue a different degree, like an Associate Degree in Allied Health and then complete the sonography program at a later date. However, the student will probably have to reapply to a sonography program.
Many schools will suggest options should a student not be accepted into a program. For example, Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in Ohio suggests the option of completing the phlebotomy program. It is a one-year certificate program, and completing the program does not impact the status of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program application. Another LCCC suggestion is to complete an LCCC Nurse Aide Training program which is also a certificate program. Students who are on sonography program waiting lists should talk to the sonography program or school staff offering counseling services and discuss various options.
Never Give Up!
The one thing a person should not do is give up when not accepted into a first choice ultrasonography program. There are over 200 accredited sonography programs in the U.S. A second thing the student should not do is attend a non-accredited ultrasonography program.
Just because the ultrasonography program is close to home does not make it a good choice. The accreditation of Allied Health programs is a sign of quality. Most of the non-accredited programs do not meet ARDMS training requirements to sit for exams so students must complete additional work after graduation. They will also have a more difficult time finding a job because most employers require completion of a CAAHEP accredited sonography program.
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