Have you been considering a career in ultrasound technology? Contrary to popular belief, ultrasound technologists, also known as sonographers, do a lot more than OB/GYN work. They work with a wide variety of doctors and medical specialists to help in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of conditions and diseases. Before you can begin working as a sonographer, you'll have to complete an educational program. Here are some tips for finding one that is right for you.
Consider Your Schedule
Sonography programs can last anywhere from 2 to 4 years depending on the type of school you choose. Vocational schools and junior colleges tend to last 2 years while larger universities offer 4 year programs. The longer 4-year programs tend to teach not only sonography skills but other forms of diagnostic imaging as well.
The program you choose will depend on your individual needs. If you need to get to work sooner, you may opt for a shorter program. If you have time to spare, you may opt to complete a 4 year program before going to work. While a longer career or degree program may give you a leg-up in terms of career opportunities and future advancement, those who opt for shorter programs can always go back to school for continuing education after they start working.
Make sure your school is accredited through either the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). While there are several certification and credentialing organizations throughout the United States, these are the two most respected and recognized in the medical field. When you finish your program you will sit for a certification examination given by either of these two boards.
Visit the School
Visit the school during normal business hour and ask for a tour. Do your best to see the classes in action – both during classroom and hands-on practical time. How do the teachers interact with the students? Are the students kept constantly busy or are they wasting time and talking amongst themselves? You're going to pay for this training, so make sure it is the best you can find.
Ask for Recommendations
Talk to other ultrasound technologists you know and ask them about the schools they went to and their own experiences. Most will be honest about what they went through and whether they found their programs were beneficial in preparing them for certification. Talk to as many people as possible and take their recommendations seriously. Read some ultrasound technician articles on the web as well – people sometimes post their thoughts about training online rather than speaking out in public.
Take your time when choosing a sonography program. Your success as an ultrasound technologist will depend on the quality of your training.