Academic Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Imagine this: you’re experiencing a sudden change in your health — you got injured, or you’re not feeling like yourself, or you’re suddenly having pain. In order to get to the bottom of things and get you the right treatment, a physician needs to be able to look inside your body to see what’s going on. With the advancement of medical sonography, doctors now have access to powerful non-invasive tools to help diagnose patients and provide life-saving support. At WCUI, our Academic Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography can prepare you to become a part of this vital and dynamic field.

WHAT IS DIAGNOSTIC MEDICAL SONOGRAPHY?

There are a few different areas of the medical imaging field; diagnostic medical sonography deals specifically with ultrasound equipment, which utilizes high-frequency sound waves. These sound waves bounce off of the organs, bones, or tissues of a patient’s body and can be analyzed in order to discover abnormalities, assess problems, and diagnose potential conditions. Sonographers can often specialize in particular fields, like obstetrics and gynecology, vascular, musculoskeletal, abdominal, cardiac, pediatric, neurology, and more. No matter which specialization you’re in, though, the goal is the same: to provide clear images that teams of medical professionals can use to help decide the best method of treatment and get patients the care they need.

WHAT DOES A SONOGRAPHER DO?

Depending on where you choose to work and the kind of facility you’re a part of, you’ll have a number of different responsibilities under your day-to-day jurisdiction. A lot of times, it’ll be tasks like:

  • Taking steps to prepare the patients, physically and mentally, for the procedure
  • Speaking with them in order to get their medical histories and answer any questions they may have about the ultrasound
  • Prepping and using the ultrasound machine to take images and review them for quality and coverage of the area needed
  • Cleaning and maintaining the imaging equipment in between procedures
  • Recording your findings in patient records and collaborating with physicians, nurses, and other practitioners to aid in diagnosis and assessment

HOW DO I BECOME A SONOGRAPHER?

In order to successfully find employment as a medical sonographer, you’ll often need to start with a degree program like the Academic Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at WCUI. We offer an accredited program that can prepare you to enter this area of healthcare with the right knowledge and skills, including helping you with relevant registries once you graduate.

Medical sonographers should also:

  • Have good hand-eye coordination — Taking ultrasounds involves moving pieces of equipment right where they need to go, all while keeping an eye on what’s happening on a screen.
  • Be detail-oriented — Ultrasounds must be precise and the differences between healthy and unhealth may be subtle, so having a strong eye for details will be a big advantage.
  • Possess strong technical skills — Digital medical imaging equipment can be complex, so sonographers must feel comfortable with computers.
  • Be calm and professional — Sonographers work closely with patients, and many times these are people dealing with a lot of worry and stress, which means a calm bedside manner is vital.

See our Pathways to Registry for Associate Medical Sonographers to see the registry exams* you’re eligible to take and which exam fees are included in the program cost:

  • The American Registry of Radiologic Technology – ARRT.org
  • American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography – ARDMS.org

* These registries are independent organizations and the prerequisites for eligibility can change at any time without WCUI’s knowledge or consent. This document is meant to be a guide only and all students should review the registry’s website for the most up-to-date information.

WHAT CERTIFICATIONS DO SONOGRAPHERS NEED?

For medical sonographers to establish themselves in the job market, it helps if they’ve passed certain certification exams and registries that will stand out to employers. WCUI recognizes the importance of this aspect in your career path, which is why we offer registry reviews, exam fee assistance, and a dedicated registry manager — all of which you can read more about on our Pathways to Registry page.

  • SPI: Physics through the ARDMS (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers)
  • RDCS: Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer through the ARDMS (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers)
  • ARDMS (AE) Adult Echo: through the ARDMS (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers)
  • ARDMS (PE) Pediatric Echo: through the ARDMS (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers)
  • RVT: Registered Vascular Technologist through the ARDMS (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers)
  • CCT: through National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
  • RCS: through CCI (Cardiovascular Credentialing International)
  • ARRT (S): through American Registry of Radiologic Technologists

WHAT WILL I LEARN IN A MEDICAL SONOGRAPHY PROGRAM?

At WCUI, we have years of experience in educating upcoming medical sonographers in exactly the skills and knowledge they need. Using online lectures, hands-on labs, and a 6-month  externship, our Diagnostic Medical Sonography students learn:

  • Vascular, abdominal, gynecology, and obstetrics
  • Problem-solving techniques in the basic concepts of physical science
  • Ethics and professionalism
  • How to demonstrate entry-level clinical knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the care of patients undergoing ultrasound procedures

Our mission and values at WCUI are about promoting the academic excellence and integrity of our graduates in a way that is supportive and contributes positively to our students’ lives. We are here for you, to get you the healthcare education you need for success.

WHAT CLASSES WILL I TAKE FOR MEDICAL SONOGRAPHY?

At WCUI, we pride ourselves on having designed a well-rounded medical sonography associate degree program that combines classroom and lab work in topics like:

  • Abdominal Ultrasound
  • Medical Terminology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentation
  • Vascular Sonography

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WHAT’S THE CAREER OUTLOOK FOR SONOGRAPHERS?

The U.S. is seeing a rapid aging of our population, and with that is coming a rising demand for medical needs and services. Medical sonographers will be a necessary part of diagnosing and determining treatment for everything from cancer to blood clots, heart disease to diabetes. Which is why the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for diagnostic medical sonographers to grow much faster than average — 19% through 2030.

  • In California, the projected growth in employment for diagnostic medical sonographers is 27.5%
  • In Arizona, diagnostic medical sonographers are in the top 5 fastest-growing healthcare jobs**

*State of California EDD https://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/OccGuides/Detail.aspx?Soccode=292032&Geography=0604000075 “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2018-2028).

**Arizona Department of Economic Security https://arizonaatwork.com/job-market-trends/demand-jobs 

WHERE DO MEDICAL SONOGRAPHERS WORK?

All different kinds of healthcare facilities, organizations, clinics, and labs are in need of trained medical sonographers, from urgent care centers to diagnostic labs, physicians’ offices to outpatient clinics. According to the BLS, though, over 60% of sonographers worked in hospital settings, including:

  • State and local hospitals
  • Research hospitals
  • Private hospitals
  • Children’s hospitals
  • And more

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET MY BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN MEDICAL SONOGRAPHY?

WCUI offers a sonography associate degree program that you can complete in as few as 21 months. Graduates are immediately eligible for relevant ARRT exams.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT WCUI’S MEDICAL SONOGRAPHY DEGREE?

In response to COVID-19, WCUI has moved to a hybrid educational model so your education doesn’t miss a beat. Our program combines online lecture classes with in-person ultrasound labs and 6-months of externship at a hospital or clinical site.  

WCUI was founded by well-respected medical professionals, and we’ve been using our experience and knowledge to help our students begin successful careers for over 20 years. We’ve been accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and College as a private post-secondary vocational school since 2001.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Are you ready to advance your education? Find the information you need to apply to the WCUI School of Medical Imaging on our Admissions Page or contact our admissions team today.

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