Medical sonographers perform ultrasounds in hospitals and other clinical settings. Ultrasound machines use sound waves to provide medical professionals a look inside of patients without the need for surgery. For example, ultrasounds play a significant role in women’s health. They reveal breast cancer in its early stages and display fetal development without harm to the mother or child.
Professionals in the medical sonography field need more than technical expertise. Traits that lend themselves to the profession include the interpersonal skills necessary to work with patients directly. The career also requires physical stamina, as day-to-day activities involve standing for long periods. Workers should also possess a passion for professional development, as ultrasound technology evolves continuously.
The best medical sonography certificates and associate in medical sonography programs provide the training that aspiring sonographers need to attain a fulfilling position.
Popular Questions About Medical Sonography Schools
Q. What is medical sonography?
Medical sonography reveals the inside of a patient’s body without the need for surgery. Doctors use ultrasound results to diagnose patients and evaluate fetal development.
Q. Can I study medical sonography online?
Yes. Hybrid degrees in medical sonography allow students to learn partially online while gaining hands-on ultrasound experience in classroom and clinical settings.
Q. How long does it take to complete a medical sonography program?
An associate degree takes approximately two years to complete. Certificate programs require fewer courses, and full-time students graduate in just 12 months.
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Career and Salary Outlook for Medical Sonographers
Typical job responsibilities for medical sonographers include maintaining and using ultrasound equipment, taking the clearest images, and speaking with patients and family members. Sonographers in all specializations perform these daily tasks. They also collaborate with physicians and other healthcare providers to diagnose conditions and develop treatment plans.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the medical sonography profession will grow 14% between 2020-2030. This projection exceeds the median projected growth rate for all U.S. careers.
Achieving career advancement and earning a higher salary depends on years of professional experience, certifications, and additional education. Sonographers who earn a bachelor’s degree make more than their peers without a bachelor’s. Professionals who want to return to school as a professor need a master’s or doctorate in sonography or another healthcare-related topic.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Schools that offer an associate in medical sonography or a medical sonography certificate program should hold regional accreditation. Regional accreditation agencies use U.S. Department of Education guidelines to evaluate colleges and universities’ academic programs and learning outcomes. Schools without this essential accreditation do not provide learners with the tools required for career success.
Some of the best medical sonography certificates have programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). CAAHEP certification signifies that a certificate or degree offers learners the best educational experience.
Courses in a Medical Sonography Program
Medical sonography certificate programs and associate in medical sonography degrees emphasize similar major coursework. These courses introduce students to different body systems and how sonographers take accurate images of each. Students demonstrate their skills during hands-on labs and clinical rotations in many hospital settings.
Despite featuring similar core courses, associate degrees and certificates differ in one regard. An associate degree takes longer to earn because graduation requirements include some general education courses, such as physics and psychology. The courses below act as a sample curriculum for either program type.
Medical TerminologyMedical terminology introduces students to typical terms that medical sonographers use on a daily basis. Learning outcomes include identifying the meaning behind prefixes, spelling medical terms correctly, and applying new vocabulary to different situations. Some of the best medical sonography certificates and degrees offer this course online.
Patient CareMedical sonographers work with patients directly. Professionals must possess honed communication skills and understand patients’ rights. Other course topics include performing emergency medical care, such as giving CPR. Patient care prepares degree- and certificate-seekers for their first clinical rotation.
OB/GYN SonographyMedical sonography plays a crucial role in women’s health. Ultrasound results detect cancers and provide physicians with essential details about fetal development. Students analyze female reproductive systems, and the laboratory tests that accompany ultrasound results. OB/GYN sonography, like other upper-division courses, helps students explore their interests and choose a specialization.
Clinical EducationTypical graduation requirements for medical sonography certificate programs and associate in medical sonography programs include multiple clinical education rotations. These rotations occur at local healthcare facilities and provide learners with hundreds of hours of hands-on experience. Each rotation focuses on a single type of medical sonography, such as abdominal or cardiovascular.
Review SeminarThe best associate in medical sonography programs require a review seminar or capstone course in the final semester. This course asks students to synthesize new knowledge and skills while demonstrating mastery. Coursework also helps learners prepare for the ARDMS exam, a test all aspiring medical sonographers must pass.
Best Online Medical Sonography Schools
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Nebraska Methodist College
Nebraska Methodist College, a private college based in Omaha, Nebraska, offers a bachelor of science in imaging sciences at its Josie Harper campus. This program allows students to explore their interest in medical imaging, including specialized areas such as tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and mammography for disease diagnosis and injury assessment.
This full-time, on-campus program takes three years to complete. Nebraska Methodist College also offers an online associate program for candidates with American Association for Respiratory Therapy (AART) designation.
Bachelor's applicants must hold AART certification and demonstrate a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA. A math/science GPA of 2.5 is also preferred. Students who are not from Nebraska must receive state authorization to complete this degree. Nebraska Methodist College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Fort Hays State University
FHSU, a public university in Hays, Kansas, offers a bachelor of science in medical diagnostic imaging (MDI) through its Department of Allied Health. Applicants must demonstrate a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA. Candidates may also qualify with an associate degree, a certificate, or current enrollment in an accredited radiography program.
Candidates who hold an associate degree or certificate in radiologic technology from an accredited program may apply previously earned credits toward this degree. Prospective students must submit transcripts with the application. Degree analysts determine whether applicants meet FHSU's admission requirements.
This course entails 124 credits. MDI applicants must gain admission to both the MDI program and the university. Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania, offers a full-time bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography. Graduates earn the registered diagnostic medical sonographer credential. This program boasts a 94-100% first-time pass rate. Passing learners can perform medical diagnostic procedures using high-frequency sound waves to produce dynamic visual images of the body.
Applicants must hold a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA and a combined SAT score of 1020 or a minimum 23 ACT composite score. All transfer transcripts must demonstrate a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants should have earned a "C" or higher in all prerequisite coursework, with no more than one course indicating grade replacement.
Misericordia's diagnostic medical sonography program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs through the Joint Review Committee on Accreditation for Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Misericordia University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Washburn University of Topeka
Based in Topeka, Kansas, WU offers a bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography through its Department of Allied Health. This program teaches students to examine the body and search for diseases using sonography as a diagnostic medical procedure.
The program's didactic coursework takes place online. WU provides students with various clinical experiences, which the school can arrange to be close to learners' residences. Graduates must complete certification exams.
The Washburn University Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon recommendation of the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Washburn University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
AdventHealth University (AHU), based in Orlando, Florida, offers a bachelor of science in imaging sciences. This program allows medical technologists to modify their education to suit their career goals. AHU's program offers six specialty tracks.
Online students benefit from this flexible program, which learners can complete in as little as 18 months. Experienced faculty developed this program's curriculum, which has become the standard for other online programs. Distance learners enjoy faculty support as they study remotely.
AHU has close links to AdventHealth, a globally renowned institution. AHU's imaging program empowers students to lead their imaging departments and advance their careers. Advent Health University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.