Diagnostic medical sonographers use specialized equipment to direct sound waves into the body to create visuals that help doctors diagnose various medical conditions. Because of the specialized nature of the position, diagnostic medical sonographers are encouraged to complete formal education, such as an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, and pass a national board exam. Coursework commonly found in sonography programs include liberal arts and science, medical coursework, sonography and clinical experiences.

Liberal Arts and Science

Students entering a diagnostic medical sonography program should be prepared with a proper liberal arts and science background. Mathematics and physics courses go hand in hand to help students understand the scientific basis for using sound waves as a means to visualizing solids and liquids. Since sonographers must effectively communicate and understand the needs of patients, coursework in psychology and communications is essential. Statistics courses provide sonography students with the knowledge and tools for interpreting data and making decisions based on statistical information. Computer information technology coursework will prepare students for using technology in the medical setting.

General Medical Coursework

Diagnostic medical sonographers must have an understanding of medical terminology, body systems and functions and the essential concepts of patient care. Courses in anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology provide students with the knowledge to identify and locate anatomical systems and diseases throughout the body. Medical ethics and patient care coursework will help sonographers handle patients and information professionally and within the law. In addition, coursework covering patient care provides sonographers with basic skills for working with patients physically and emotionally within the scope of the profession.

Sonography

Sonography courses provide concentrated instruction in the mechanics and analysis of diagnostic sonography tasks. Coursework in sonographic physics and instrumentation provides students with the knowledge of how sonograms work, how to utilize the machines to produce the best images and how to analyze images to produce the most accurate diagnosis. Students will also take specialized sonography courses, such as obstetrical, gynecological, abdominal and small parts, which focus on specific areas of the body.

Clinical Experience

Students will complete a clinical internship as part of the sonography education program. During the clinical experience, students use ultrasound equipment to identify organs and disease. Practicing in the clinical setting allows students to hone their knowledge and skills in performing ultrasound examinations. Working under the supervision of a radiographer or physician, the student also develops professional skills and learns about the medical working environment and administrative duties.