Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasonography to aid physicians in diagnosing patients. While the majority of sonographers do work in hospitals, many clinics and doctor's offices employ full-time sonographers, too, creating many jobs in this health care-related field. Enrolling in a college-accredited program for sonographers can ensure your preparedness for a life-long career in sonography.
All degrees in sonography require general medical and science courses such as anatomy, physiology, physics and even advanced physics. Most have a prerequisite of algebra and general education courses like psychology. Also, students are required to take classes in instrumentation and medical terminology. Courses in patient care and medical ethics are also imperative for working in the health care field of sonography.
Along with general medical courses required for diagnostic medical sonographer degrees, specialized training is recommended to be better prepared for a specific field of sonography. All students should take general courses in all types of sonography, later choosing a specialty in one or two fields. The specialized sonography courses cover several areas. Obstetrics/gynecology sonography covers the female reproductive organs. Echocardiography assesses the heart and surrounding tissues with courses available for adult and pediatric echocardiography. Abdominal sonography evaluates the organs and tissues in the abdominal cavity. Breast sonography teaches how to find abnormalities in screening with diagnostic mammography. Vascular technology concentrates on the blood flow of peripheral and abdominal blood vessels. Neurosonography covers the brain and spinal cord while ophthalmology covers the eye and surrounding muscles. All courses should include classwork coupled with clinical experience.
Receiving a Degree
Many colleges offer a 2-year associate's degree or a 4-year bachelor's degree in diagnostic medical sonography. Only attend programs that are accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) because these programs are equipped with the courses and practicums needed. An associate's degree will usually provide the basic courses needed to be a sonographer while a bachelor's degree will provide additional specialized training.
Check out alternate training programs that some hospitals offer. These can accept high school graduates with high math and science scores and they have practical on-the-job training that can lead to an accreditation later. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers an exam for accreditation to those who have successfully finished a degree in sonography or completed training with work experience.
- Heartbeat image by JASON WINTER from Fotolia.com