Diagnostic medical sonographers, also known as ultrasound technicians, use ultrasound machines to obtain human body images for diagnostic purposes.
Along with the operation and maintenance of the sonography machines, they are also responsible for reviewing patients’ medical histories for relevant information about the procedure and getting them ready.
It goes without saying that to perform all of these functions professionally at the highest level, significant training and education are required.
In case you’d like to consider a career in sonography, below are a few education/training paths to consider.
Education Options for Becoming a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Training programs for sonography usually offer a certificate, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree, depending on the type of institution in question. It should be noted, however, that to qualify for certification by the ARRT (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists), students must have at least an associate’s degree.
Accreditation is also an important factor that everyone must consider before choosing a program and institution. Below is a list of some more prestigious institutions offering formal sonography training.
These institutions are certified by CAAHEP - the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Accredited Offline Programs for Sonography Degrees & Certificate
Below is a list of general and specialized programs for sonography training.
University of Colorado, Denver
The University of Colorado’s Radiology Department offers a diagnostic medical sonography certificate program for six to seven students every year. The program lasts thirteen (13) months and includes clinical and classroom training.
To be admitted into the program, students must already have an associate’s degree from an allied health program or a bachelor’s degree in a medical field.
The curriculum specializes in obstetric and gynecologic ultrasound, abdominal sonography, fetal echocardiography, musculoskeletal sonography, pediatric sonography, and vascular technology.
Ascension Providence Hospital
At the Ascension Providence Hospital, students can complete a certificate course in diagnostic medical sonography for 21 months. The program is supervised by trained professionals already practicing in the field.
To be admitted, candidates must be certified as radiologic technologists and possess an associate’s degree. Both clinical and classroom sessions are included.
The curriculum focuses on obstetric and gynecologic ultrasound, superficial anatomy, abdominal sonography, and vascular ultrasound examinations.
Harper College, located in Palatine, Illinois, offers an associate’s degree program for those who need to meet the requirements to enter the above programs.
Harper College’s medical sonography program consists of 71 credits. It includes courses like sonography theory, healthcare technology, informatics, introduction to medical sonography, abdominal and small parts sonography, legal and ethical issues in healthcare, and obstetrical and gynecological sonography.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
The University of Nebraska’s College of Allied Health Professions provides post-baccalaureate professional certificates in diagnostic medical sonography. Once the program is complete, they also offer a bachelor of science degree in medical imaging and therapeutic sciences.
While the certificate program requires 40 semester hours, a minimum of 120 credits are required to pass the BS program.
Other offline alternatives include the Mayo Clinic diagnostic medical sonography programs available in their Minnesota and Florida campuses and Seattle University’s Bachelor of Science Degree programs in diagnostic ultrasound.
Online & Hybrid Programs for Sonography Degree & Certificate
Below are programs that allow part-time or full-time online studies for a degree in medical sonography.
Washburn University’s main campus in Topeka, Kansas, offers online training in diagnostic medical sonography. The program is more than ten years old, and all class-related activity is taken on the Internet.
Students still have to attend clinical training, but the school arranges that part of the program to be as close to the student as possible.
Jackson College has a robust allied health department, with its cardiac and vascular sonography program being just one of a handful of impressive courses.
Didactic courses are available entirely online, but students must attend in person for clinical training. It lasts for a year and includes 24 to 32 hours of classes every week.
Like Washburn, the program finds an approved clinic as close to the student’s home as possible for maximum convenience.
Oregon Institute of Technology
Through its online program, Oregon Tech allows remote students to obtain a bachelor of science degree in diagnostic medical sonography. Courses include obstetrical sonography, pelvic sonography, sonographic pathology, breast sonography, musculoskeletal sonography, and many more.
Labette Community College
Lastly, Labette Community College is another option for those looking to earn a degree in diagnostic medical sonography online. Located in Parsons, KS, the school’s sonography program has two significant areas of concentration - general sonography and vascular sonography.
Students must complete 1024 clinical hours in two clinical hours at a site closest to them. The general sonography program comprises 38 credits, while vascular sonography contains 32 credits. Like all the programs on our list, this one is also CAAHEP-accredited.
Key Courses in Medical Sonography Programs
Most diagnostic medical sonography programs in the country follow a curriculum standard set by the US Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRCDMS).
These courses cover both general and specialized sonography. They include, among others:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Psychology and human behavior
- Information technology
- Superficial structures
- Medical ethics and law
- Medical terminology
- Patient care
- Vascular and neurosonographic imaging
- Work-related musculoskeletal disorders
- Sonography principles and instrumentation
There are also additional topics of focus depending on a student’s area of specialization. For example, below are critical topics for those specializing in abdominal sonography and OBGYN.
- Abdominal Sonography - Biliary, spleen, abdominal vasculature, gastro-intestinal tract, neck, scrotum, neonatal spine, neonatal brain, pediatric hip, liver, pancreas, adrenal, renal and lower urinary tract, breast, organ transplant, interventional and prostate.
- Obstetric and Gynecology - performance standards & documentation, high-risk obstetrics, fetal assessment, clinical assessment of obstetrical patients, interventional procedures, fetal structure abnormalities, and postpartum complications.
Students pursuing a four-year degree in diagnostic medical sonography may have to take elective courses in areas outside of the sonography curriculum.