The marketing of online educational programs in 2017 seemed to reach a frenzy as schools competed for enrollments. However, just because an online certificate or degree program exists does not mean it is reputable. Students must understand how to evaluate ultrasound technician schools online to ensure the earned degree or the earned certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography represents the quality training needed to provide the greatest employment opportunities. Following are 7 features to keep in mind when evaluating ultrasound technician schools and their online offerings.
1. Is the sonography program CAAHEP accredited?
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs is an accrediting organization that assesses the quality of schools and programs. CAAHEP accreditation is an important feature for two reasons. First, the CAAHEP accredited ultrasound technology programs prepare students to sit for the credentialing exams offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Second, many employers will only consider job candidates who graduated from a CAAHEP accredited school and are registered with the ARDMS. The accreditation status indicates students have received the training needed to competently manage ultrasound technician requirements once employed.
2. Do the ultrasound technician schools online offer advising, academic assistance and tools?
Good accredited sonography online schools offer advising, academic assistance, opportunities for online networking with other program attendees, and educational software tools. Even though the classes are presented online, students should have access to faculty just like the students attending on-campus programs do. The only difference is that online sonography students will hold discussions using webcams, email, chat sessions or other software tools. Each online program uses a particular software package, and that package should contain features that enhance the educational experience. Students researching online sonography schools should review the technology requirements carefully and get assurances the software program offers students an enriched online experience.
3. Is the school have their prerequisites clearly outlined?
The quality online sonography school should have their prerequisites clearly outlined. For example, Washburn University requires that program applicants must have completed certain college-level courses that include statistics, algebra or some other higher mathematics course; physics or radiographic physics; communications skills class; and a human anatomy and physiology class. Each school will have different prerequisites.
4. Does the school require completing course work and clinical training?
Quality diagnostic medical sonography schools online require completing course work and clinical training. Students choosing a CAAHEP accredited sonography program have the assurance that both program components are included and that they are being properly prepared to sit for ARDMS exams. A good online sonography program will clearly explain the options for choosing a clinical education location so there are no misunderstandings. For example, Washburn University’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography Clinical Coordinator will contact five facilities the student names as first choices for clinical placement. Jackson Community College will also work with students to find a clinical facility that is as convenient as possible.
5. Is the student selection process clearly explained?
The student selection process should be clearly explained. The reality is that there is high demand for CAAHEP accredited sonography programs offered as distance education. Good sonography schools are honest about the student selection process and the minimum requirements for admission consideration. This makes it easier for students to plan their education to develop their ultrasound careers. Schools that are not forthright are often trolling for student applications. They are likely not accredited and probably accept most applications because they are not concerned with quality.
6. Does the online school have financial aid and scholarship opportunities?
Reputable online schools have financial aid and scholarship opportunities, just like campus schools. There are federal and state minimum financial responsibility and administrative capability standards schools must meet before they are allowed to issue government financial aid. A school offering a sonography program online, but is not approved to participate in the federal financial assistance programs for students, should be thoroughly investigated. This is true even if the student does not need financial aid. All CAAHEP accredited programs are approved for financial aid distribution.
7. Does the school provide statistics for students to assess the program quality?
Schools should be able to provide statistics that students can use to assess the quality of the ultrasound technician programs. The statistics include the number of students accepted into the program each year, graduation rates, number of graduates obtaining employment, passing rate for the ARDMS exams, student retention rates, and student default rates. In addition, the school advisors or job placement counselors can usually provide other information like the job outlook in areas of interest to the student.
Ultrasound technician schools online offer excellent educational opportunities to people who need the convenience of completing coursework at home and might not be able to attend school otherwise. One of the most important points to keep in mind is that CAAHEP accreditation is a sign of a quality school that thoroughly prepares students for earning ARDMS registration and employment. The occupational outlook for Diagnostic Medical sonographers is excellent. The Department of Labor project a 44 percent growth in the number of positions between 2010 and 2020, and that is much faster than the rate projected for all other positions. Distance education brings coursework to the student, giving thousands of people an opportunity to pursue career goals.