Sonographers use ultrasound technology to monitor conditions and look for signs of disease without opening the body surgically. The field is experiencing high levels of job growth, but requires extensive training due to the complexity of the ultrasound equipment and the possibility of causing harm. To ensure testing accuracy and patient safety, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) certifies that participating Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs meet minimum standards and has created guidelines for program admission.
The diagnostic medical sonography certificate program is designed to give an additional skill to someone already in the medical profession. Students applying to a 1-year certificate program must previously have completed a 2- or 4-year program in an allied field such as physical therapy or radiography. Schools may waive this requirement for applicants with a bachelor's degree in any science-related major. Algebra, physiology and physics courses are necessary if they have not been taken during the previous program.
Associate Degree Programs
An applicant for an associate's degree needs a high school diploma or GED and must successfully complete a course in algebra or another higher level math course as well as anatomy and English composition or speech. Additional courses in medical terminology, physics and psychology may be required by an individual program.
Applicants for degree programs may have additional general education prerequisites to complete prior to being eligible to select a major, because accredited colleges and universities seek to have well-rounded graduates. Common general education requirements include credits in humanities, liberal arts or physical education. Consult with your school to see if any courses for the sonography program can also be used as general education credits.
Students at all levels will be expected to show the ability to retain new information, as the field is constantly changing. Most schools will conduct an interview with applicants prior to admission into the sonography program. Because of the high level of patient interaction, a student will be expected to be considerate of diversity and able to express herself effectively. Programs may request letters of recommendation from a teacher or employer stating that the applicant possesses personality traits such as empathy and accountability.