Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography

Nothing in our bodies works without the heart, which makes taking care of it a vital part of our long-term health. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease contributed to over 800,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2017. And with our country’s population aging, we’ll need skilled medical professionals to help us assess and diagnose heart conditions even more than ever. With the Bachelor of Science degree in Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography (Echo), you can set yourself up for an essential career in preventative medicine.

WHAT IS DIAGNOSTIC CARDIOVASCULAR SONOGRAPHY?

Diagnostic cardiovascular sonography — sometimes also called echocardiography — is a specialized area of medical sonography. All sonographers work in the diagnostic field, operating imaging equipment that uses high-frequency sound waves to take images of patients’ internal organs and tissues. These sonograms (or ultrasounds) are a non-invasive way for medical professionals to figure out what is going on inside a patient. Cardiac sonographers or echocardiographers specialize in using this imaging technology on the heart and cardiovascular system, including the blood vessels, to detect heart complications or even life-threatening cardiac abnormalities. It’s a profession that can often save patients by helping diagnose issues early, including some cardiac sonographers who work to identify congenital anomalies during pregnancy. It’s the kind of profession that truly makes a difference in patients’ lives.

WHAT DOES AN ECHOCARDIOGRAPHER DO?

Echocardiographers and sonographers have a wide range of responsibilities and tasks to perform, and some of it varies depending on their work environment. They have to do things like:

  • Preparing patients for the procedure
  • Recording patient medical histories and answering their questions about the ultrasound
  • Preparing, cleaning, and maintaining the imaging equipment
  • Operating the ultrasound machine and reviewing the images to ensure they’ve gotten all the areas needed
  • Analyzing the images for abnormalities and diagnostic information
  • Recording their findings in patient records and conferring with cardiologists, physicians, nurses, and other practitioners
  • Evaluate the heart, collaborate with cardiologists, nurses, practitioners to help diagnose and treat heart and vascular conditions

HOW DO I BECOME AN ECHOCARDIOGRAPHER?

Becoming an echocardiographer requires formal education, generally through an accredited degree program. At WCUI, our Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography Bachelor of Science degree program will prepare you for an entry-level career in this field, including readying you for any relevant registries or certification exams upon graduation. A bachelor’s degree in echocardiography, in particular, can give you advantages on your career path, including:

  • More knowledge — The bachelor’s degree offers courses in vascular sonography, cardiovascular sonography, structural heart disease, and congenital heart disease (CHD) along with other protocols for cardiovascular sonographers.
  • A way to set yourself apart — Advanced vascular and CHD courses can give you a stronger knowledge in these topics and set you apart from other sonographers once you enter the field.
  • A quicker path to becoming a registered sonographer — Graduates are eligible to sit immediately for their ARDMS exam and the ARDMS exam fee is included in the cost of the program. See our Pathways to Registry for Bachelor Cardiovascular Sonographers to see the registry exams you’re eligible to take and which exam fees are included in the program cost

On top of that, someone interested in becoming a cardiovascular sonographer should be detail-oriented, good at maintaining a calm and professional demeanor, have great hand-eye coordination, and possess strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

WHAT CERTIFICATIONS DO ECHOCARDIOGRAPHERS NEED?

Cardiovascular sonographers can become registered by taking and passing the following registry certification exams. WCUI strongly recommends obtaining certifications to provide you with the best knowledge and opportunities when entering the sonography field. WCUI provides registry reviews and assistance with the registry exam process. See our Pathways to Registry for information on which exam fees are included in the WCUI program cost.

  • 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 CARDIOVASCULAR SONOGRAPHY PROGRAM?

WCUI educates the next generations of sonographers using a combination of online and classroom lectures, in-person hands-on lab experiences, and a capstone 6-month externship. In our Bachelor of Science degree program in Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography program, students will be taught:

  • Advanced vascular sonography
  • Diseases of the heart, including structural heart disease and adult congenital heart disease
  • Preventive and screening protocols
  • Electrocardiography (EKG)
  • Diagnostic evaluation of adult congenital heart defects
  • The role of cardiovascular sonographers in special cardiac imaging procedures
  • Ethics and professionalism
  • How to solve mathematical and computational problems
  • How to relate anatomy and physiology to the field of diagnostic cardiovascular sonography

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 student’s lives. We are here for you, to get you the healthcare education you need for success.

WHAT CLASSES WILL I TAKE FOR CARDIOVASCULAR SONOGRAPHY?

Our echocardiography bachelor’s degree includes both foundational general education courses — like algebra and physics — and in-depth medical coursework like:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Adult Congenital Heath Defects
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Procedures
  • Advanced Vascular Sonography
  • Electrocardiography
  • Medical Terminology
  • Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentation

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WHAT’S THE CAREER OUTLOOK FOR ECHOCARDIOGRAPHERS?

Heart and vascular diseases are among the top causes of death in the United States and have topped that list for a while now. The increased prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and our aging population means that the number of people susceptible to heart disease is only expected to rise. All of which would explain why the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for sonographers to grow much faster than average — 19% through 2030.

  • In California, the projected growth in employment for cardiovascular sonographers is 16%*
  • In Arizona, the projected employment growth is for cardiovascular sonographers is 40%**

*State of California EDD https://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/employment-projections.html “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2018-2028).

**Arizona Commerce Authority https://www.azcommerce.com/oeo/labor-market/employment-projections/ “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030)

 

ECHO Student

WHERE DO CARDIOVASCULAR SONOGRAPHERS WORK?

Echocardiographers and cardiovascular sonographers can find work in a wide range of medical facilities all across the country. The majority of them are employed in hospital settings, like:

  • Research hospitals
  • Children’s hospitals
  • Community hospitals
  • Private hospitals

But just under half are employed outside of those settings, in medical facilities and organizations that include:

  • Outpatient clinics
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Clinical applications/sales specialists
  • Medical and diagnostic labs
  • Teaching and classroom settings

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

WCUI offers a bachelor’s degree program that you can complete in as few as 36 months. Graduates are immediately eligible for relevant CCI and ARDMS registries.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT WCUI’S CARDIOVASCULAR 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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Frequently Asked Questions About the Cardiovascular Sonography Programs

What do cardiovascular sonographers do?

  • Evaluate the heart, collaborate with cardiologists, nurses, practitioners to help diagnose and treat heart and vascular conditions
  • They do this by applying an ultrasound transducer to the chest of their patient to create diagnostic ultrasound images and videos of the different parts of the heart. These images are created through ultrasound waves which are non-invasive and do not utilize radiation

What is it like as a cardiovascular sonographer?

  • Being a cardiovascular sonographer can be very rewarding as the images and videos you create can help diagnose often life-threatening cardiac abnormalities. You help save lives!
  • Pediatric cardiovascular sonographers help children with congenital heart disease problems. The ultrasound images they create will help physicians determine patient care to help children move onto live normal lives.
  • Cardiac Sonographers can also help identify early congenital anomalies during pregnancy to help avoid any adverse outcomes and plan for earlier heart interventions.
  • In all, cardiovascular sonographers can work with a wide variety of patients from babies in the womb to adults!

Cardiovascular Sonographers should be:

  • Professional
    • Heart disease and complications of the heart is a very serious part of healthcare. The heart is a critical organ and many patients, and their families could be worried and scared. Early detection and diagnosis are essential in helping people live healthier lives. A cardiovascular sonographer professional is part of an integral healthcare team of physicians, nurses and surgeons passionately dedicated to diagnosing, managing and treat patients with cardiovascular disease.
  • Detailed
    • Everything you scan matters. You need to know why you’re creating these images in order to get the patient’s health on the right track. The images you take impact a person’s life.
  • Calm
    • This field is fast-paced and can get stressful. You will need to be calm and collected around patients and with your team
  • Have Great Hand-Eye Coordination
    • Sonographers have to use their hands and eyes in unison to scan! Cardiac Sonographers have to move the ultrasound transducer around on the patient while looking up at the image you’re creating on the ultrasound machine’s screen.
    • Physical demands – lift, pull push ultrasound equipment
  • Good Problem Solvers
    • Cardiac sonographers often scan on their own and must use critical thinking and problem-solving skills. If you’re having trouble getting the image your physician or radiologist needs, you have to problem solve quickly during your patient’s appointment.

Demand and Growth for Cardiovascular Sonographers

  • Heart and Vascular disease are among the top issues in the United States! Heart disease remains the #1 cause of death worldwide in the latest annual Statistical Update from the American Heart Association
    • The increased prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and our growing population of elderly all of whom are more susceptible to heart disease combined with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, cardiovascular sonographers are needed now more than ever to help provide ultrasound images that will allow doctors to provide early prevention and treatment to heart and vascular patients.
    • In California, the projected growth in employment for cardiovascular sonographers is 16%,
    • In Arizona, the projected employment growth is for cardiovascular sonographers is 40%
    • WCUI’s current employment rate for Bachelor of Science Cardiovascular Sonography Graduates is 92%!

Employment rate is based on the cohort of students starting between 10/2015 and 9/2016 at our Los Angeles and Phoenix campus. Individual campus rates can be found in our full 2021 ACCSC Annual Report: www.wcui.edu/consumer-information/


Sources: *State of California EDD https://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/employment-projections.html “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2018-2028).

**Arizona Commerce Authority https://www.azcommerce.com/oeo/labor-market/employment-projections/ “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030)

Why Should I Consider a Bachelor’s Degree in Cardiovascular Sonography?

  • More Knowledge – The bachelor’s degree offers courses in vascular sonography, cardiovascular sonography, structural heart disease, and congenital heart disease (CHD) along with other protocols for cardiovascular sonographers.
  • Stand Out In The Field – Advanced vascular and CHD courses could give students a stronger knowledge of these topics and set them apart from other sonographers once they enter the field.
  • Become A Registered Sonographer – Graduates are eligible to sit immediately for their ARDMS exam and the ARDMS exam fee is included in the cost of the program. See our Pathways to Registry for Bachelor Cardiovascular Sonographers to see the registry exams you’re eligible to take and which exam fees are included in the program cost.

Where do Cardiac Sonographers work?

  • Academic Hospitals
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Emergency Departments
  • Trauma Centers
  • Children’s Hospitals
  • Community Hospitals
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Physician Offices
  • Research/Design
  • Clinical Applications/Sales Specialists
  • Teachers
  • Registry / Travelers

Cardiovascular Sonographers Perform Exams:

  • At bedside
  • Mobile units
  • Operating rooms
  • Interventional suites
  • Pediatric units
  • Fetal Heart/OB maternal-fetal medicine
  • Congenital heart Clinics/hospitals
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Hospitals o Specialty Clinics

Cardiovascular Registry Certification

  • Cardiovascular sonographers can become registered by taking and passing the following registry certification exams. WCUI strongly recommends obtaining certifications to provide you with the best knowledge and opportunities when entering the sonography field. WCUI provides registry reviews and assistance with the registry exam process. See our Pathways to Registry for information on which exam fees are included in the WCUI program cost.
    • 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

Join Our Upcoming Information Sessions with the WCUI Academic Dean of Sonography, who can help answer your questions about the field of Cardiovascular Sonography and your future career!

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