(found 16 schools)
The diagnostic medical sonography diploma programs prepare students to work as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. A sonographer or ultrasound technician is a specialized healthcare technologist or technician who uses high-tech medical equipment to create ultrasound images of soft tissues, organs and blood flow systems in the body. The images are produced through high frequency sound waves without the use of any radiation. Sonographers can earn a sonography diploma with a general concentration or specialize in cardiac or vascular systems.
Advantage of Sonography Diploma Programs
The sonography diploma programs are different from sonography degree programs in that fewer credits must be earned. However, this is only because the diploma programs require applicants to have already earned an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree. The programs may even have different options based on the degree already earned. For example, the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Professional Plus (DPP) diploma program may accept people who have a Bachelor’s degree in a field that is not Medical Imaging. The Diagnostic Medical Sonography Professional diploma program may be designed for students who already have an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, or diploma in a Medical Imaging field like Nuclear Medicine or Radiologic Technology.
There are two main advantages of the diagnostic medical sonography diploma programs. First, students primarily take classes and complete necessary clinical training directly related only to ultrasound technology. Second, the programs give students additional professional training that qualifies them to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, expanding career options.
However, diploma students, like any medical sonography student, should attend a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Earning accreditation means the program has been evaluated and reviewed as to how well it prepares students to take the ARDMS examinations and earn certification. Earning ARDMS certification is necessary for program graduates who want to have the greatest number of employment opportunities. Most employer look for ARDMS registration when culling job applicants. | See Job Openings
A List of Accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography Diploma Programs
|CAAHEP or ARRT||Concentration||Telephone|
|Georgia||Rome||Georgia Northwestern Technical College|
|CAAHEP Accredited||Cardiac, Vascular, General||(706)802-5860|
|Michigan||University Center||Delta College|
|Minnesota||Rochester||Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science|
|New Jersey||Plainfield||JFK Medical Center Muhlenberg Harold B. and Dorothy A. Snyder Schools|
|CAAHEP Accredited and ARRT Recognized||General||(908)668-2884|
|New York||Levittown||Hunter Business School|
|CAAHEP Accredited||Cardiac, General||(631)736-7360|
|North Carolina||Winston-Salem||Forsyth Technical Community College|
|North Carolina||Wilmington||Cape Fear Community College|
|North Carolina||Greenville||Pitt Community College|
|CAAHEP Accredited and ARRT Recognized||Cardiac||(252)493-7240|
|Ohio||Toledo||Owens Community College|
|CAAHEP Accredited||Vascular, General||(567)661-7560|
|Ohio||Rio Grande||University of Rio Grande / Rio Grande Community College|
|CAAHEP Accredited||Cardiac, Vascular||(740)245-7139|
|Oklahoma||Norman||Moore Norman Technology Center|
|Pennsylvania||Bethlehem||Northampton Community College|
|CAAHEP Accredited and ARRT Recognized||General||(610)332-6177|
|Pennsylvania||State College||South Hills School of Business and Technology|
|CAAHEP Accredited||Cardiac, Vascular, General||(814)234-7755|
|Rhode Island||Providence||Rhode Island Hospital|
|West Virginia||Bridgeport||United Hospital Center, Inc.|
|CAAHEP Accredited||General, Vascular||(681)342-1871|
What to Expect from Sonography Diploma Programs
CAAHEP accredited diploma programs have stringent admission requirements for quality assurance reasons and because they receive many applications for each session. The requirements to apply may include graduation from an accredited two-year Allied Health program or a Bachelor’s degree from any accredited program. The Specialized Diploma in Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs qualify students who meet the program entrance requirements, which vary from school to school, to work as an ultrasound technician.
It takes 12 to 18 months to complete, depending on how the program is structured, previous degree earned and prior clinical training or experience.
Tuition Fees and Costs
Tuition and other costs, like fees and books, can vary significantly from school to school. The cost of attending a two-year institution is much less than attending a four-year educational facility. Other factors influencing the cost of education include whether the school is private, public, for-profit and/or non-profit.
For example, in a special study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics for the period 2011-2012, the annual average total cost of attendance for full-time students living off-campus, while attending two-year institutions, was $15,526 at a public in-state facility; $29,301 at a private nonprofit; and $27,362 at a private for-profit. The rates at four-year facilities can run as much as 40 percent more. Since the cost of education continues to rise in 2018, most students obtain some kind of financial aid as ultrasound scholarships, grants and loans.
Students can choose a sonography concentration that includes general, cardio or vascular, and the selection will determine the curriculum. Cardiac Diagnostic Medical Sonographer responsibilities focus on detecting and assessing conditions associated with the heart. Vascular Diagnostic Medical Sonographers detect and assess conditions associated with the vascular system, including aortas, arteries and veins. Program requirements may vary from school to school, but every CAAHEP accredited program meets minimum nationally established quality standards.
Since students in programs leading to diplomas usually have an Allied Health degree or background, the curriculum concentrates specifically on sonography didactic and/or clinical training. Typical curriculum includes the following types of course, though the course names differ between programs:
- Acoustic physics and instrumentation
- Anatomy, physiology and imaging of abdominal
- Anatomy, physiology and imaging of obstetrical and gynecological
- Sectional anatomy (cross sectional and three-dimensional anatomy)
- Small Parts
- Medical management and supervision
- Law & ethics in medical imaging
- Clinical (not always required if requirements already fulfilled)
The cardiac concentration programs leading to a diploma in Diagnostic Medical Sonography will include the courses for a general concentration plus the following:
- Ultrasound physics and instrumentation
- Cross-sectional and three-dimensional anatomy
- Gynecologic ultrasound
- Cardiac Pathophysiology
- Principles of cardiovascular technology
- Principles of vascular ultrasound
Students may choose a vascular specialty for their concentration, leading to a diploma in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The courses will include those required for a general concentration in addition to the following:
- Principles of vascular ultrasound
- Vascular technology
- Vascular pathophysiology
- Vascular technology
- Principles of cardiovascular technology
- Ultrasound of the thyroid, breast and superficial structures
- Abdominal ultrasound
There is some overlap in the concentrations. For example, students with a cardiac concentration or a vascular concentration will complete a course in the principles of cardiovascular technology.
Tips on finding the Best Diploma Programs
Finding the best sonography diploma programs to meet educational and personal needs is easy by first completing a search by concentration, state and type of degree on the CAAHEP website. As of 2018, there are 16 schools in 11 states offering accredited diplomas in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Following are some more tips for finding suitable programs:
- After selecting preferred qualified programs, review the school websites
- Never hesitate to contact program faculty to ask specific questions
- Inquire about the program’s clinical affiliates to ensure locations are accessible
- Make sure program start date fits personal needs
- Research the faculty experience and qualifications
- Ask the program counselor how many graduates find employment in their chosen concentration and if the schools provide job search assistance
- Consider sonography diploma programs at schools offering scholarships
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that Diagnostic Medical Sonographers earned average annual wages of $71,750 or $34.49 per hour as of May 2016. The projected job growth of 22 percent for the period 2012-2022 is faster than the average of all occupations in the nation. Since most sonographers earning a sonography diploma have an Allied Health degree or extensive work experience, they are adding skills that can lead to wage increases. The sonography diploma also expands career options.
During the 10-year period, the number of job openings is projected to be 35,300 positions, but this number is likely to go up. As the national healthcare program expands, there is increasing emphasis on using outpatient, non-invasive medical procedures as opposed to surgery or other invasive techniques. Sonographers will be in increasing demand because they can work in all medical settings, do not use hazardous materials during imaging and can play an important role in wellness as well as diagnosing illnesses.
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