Updated: Feb 25
A Comprehensive Guide to Education, Certification, and Clinical Experience for Prospective Ultrasound Technicians.
Ultrasound technology allows for safe and non-invasive imaging of the abdomen, providing valuable diagnostic information for healthcare providers.
Ultrasound technology is a rapidly growing field in the medical industry, with increasing demand for qualified ultrasound technicians. These professionals use specialized equipment to create images of internal organs and tissues, assisting physicians in diagnosing and treating patients. If you're interested in pursuing a career as an sonographer, there are some important steps you'll need to take, including passing the ARDMS exam.
Clarifying the Terminology: Sonographers vs. Ultrasound Technicians
In the field of medical imaging, the terms "sonographer" and "ultrasound technician" are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are important differences between the two.
Sonographers are healthcare professionals who use ultrasound technology to create images of the human body. They have specialized training in anatomy and physiology, ultrasound physics and instrumentation, and patient care. Sonographers also have a thorough understanding of how to optimize ultrasound images for diagnostic purposes, and they work closely with physicians to help interpret and analyze the images.
Ultrasound technicians, on the other hand, may refer to anyone who operates an ultrasound machine, regardless of their level of training or expertise.
As healthcare professionals who specialize in the use of ultrasound technology to create medical images, we are sonographers.
Step 1: Education and Training
To become an ultrasound technician, you will need to complete an accredited training program in diagnostic medical sonography. These programs are typically offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and universities. Some programs may also offer specialized tracks, such as abdominal sonography or obstetric and gynecologic sonography. Coursework typically covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, ultrasound physics and instrumentation, patient care and communication, and image interpretation.
There are many colleges and universities across the United States that offer accredited programs in diagnostic medical sonography, which is the field that includes ultrasound technology. Here is a list of some of the colleges and universities that offer diagnostic medical sonography programs:
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Adventist University of Health Sciences
University of Missouri-Columbia
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Thomas Jefferson University
University of Alabama at Birmingham
San Diego Mesa College
This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other colleges and universities that offer sonography programs as well. It is important to research and compare programs to find the one that best fits your needs and goals.
Step 2: Clinical Experience
Most accredited sonography programs include a clinical component, which allows students to gain hands-on experience working with patients and operating ultrasound equipment. This clinical experience is critical for developing the skills and knowledge needed to succeed as an ultrasound technician.
Step 3: Certification
While certification is not required in all states, most employers prefer to hire ultrasound technicians who have earned a professional certification. The most widely recognized certification is offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). To become certified, you must pass the ARDMS exam, which is designed to test your knowledge and skills in sonography.
Sonography professionals who earn the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certification meet rigorous criteria in both knowledge and expertise in Sonography. To earn one or more of the following credentials, applicants must meet prerequisites in education and clinical experience and pass ARDMS examinations:
Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer® (RDMS®)
Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer® (RDCS®)
Registered Vascular Technologist® (RVT®)
Registered Musculoskeletal™ Sonographer (RMSKS™)
Midwife Sonography Certificate
ARDMS-awarded credentials are widely accepted in the medical community by sonography and vascular professional organizations, as they document personal achievement of recognized professional standards. It is important to note, however, that ARDMS does not validate the day-to-day job performance of any sonography professional.
Obtaining ARDMS certification is a significant achievement in the field of Sonography, as it demonstrates a high level of knowledge and expertise. It also provides opportunities for career advancement and professional recognition. If you're interested in pursuing ARDMS certification, be sure to review the prerequisites and requirements carefully and prepare thoroughly for the examinations.
Step 4: Job Search and Continuing Education
Once you have completed your training and earned your certification, you will be ready to start your job search. Ultrasound technicians are in high demand, with opportunities in hospitals, clinics, physician's offices, and diagnostic imaging centers. You may also want to consider continuing your education by earning additional certifications or pursuing advanced training in a specialized area of sonography.
In conclusion, becoming an ultrasound technician requires a commitment to education, clinical experience, and certification. By completing an accredited training program, gaining clinical experience, passing the ARDMS exam, and pursuing continuing education opportunities, you can position yourself for a successful career in this dynamic and rewarding field.