Ultrasound technicians provide patient care using ultrasonography technology. This is the process where high-frequency sound waves produce images of internal body structures so that physicians can diagnose a variety of conditions and diseases, or monitor fetal development.
Before working in this profession, one must earn a high school diploma or GED and further their education at a community college, university, trade or vocational school.
Things to Consider Before Selecting a Program
Is it accredited? Students need to enroll in a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. There are more than 150 programs within the United States that have been reviewed and are proven to meet the quality standards for ultrasound technology.
What type of degree is earned? Students need to obtain at least an Associate of Applied Science degree before they can enter the field. The certificate option is only for those who currently work in healthcare such as registered nurses or physician assistants.
What is the cost of a program and is financial aid available? Students should always check to see if more than one school in their area offers ultrasound technician programs as it is definitely worth the time to research costs and compare programs. For students who need financial assistance, ask what options are available to you. Keep in mind loans must be repaid whether you finish the program or not.
Depending on the school, the application process for the ultrasound technician program may include an interview. Students should be ready for questions such as:
- Why do you have an interest in sonography?
- Would you please tell us about yourself?
- What qualities do you feel ultrasound technicians should have?
- What are your weak points?
- What strengths do you have that will make you well suited to sonography
- What steps are you taking to prepare for an extensive program such as this?
Other Program Requirements
Along with grades, students generally need to meet the following requirements to receive admission into a program:
- Good hearing to distinguish audible Doppler sounds
- Good eyesight to adequately read gray-scale sonographic images
- The ability to move patients and manipulate equipment weighing up to 600 pounds
- A neat physical appearance
What Courses are Part of a Program?
Courses differ from school to school, but you may complete classes such as:
Cardiac Diagnostic Procedures – This course includes laboratory practices and theory regarding basic cardiovascular procedures of electrocardiography.
Initial Sonographic Scanning – Students learn how to recognize anatomic structures, use transducers, scanning techniques, and body mechanics.
Patient Care – This course gives students the necessary tools to properly interact with patients and how to prepare them for the exam.
Specialized Courses – There are several specialized courses available to students that will allow them to work in an advanced area within the field. They include abdominal sonography and cardiac sonography.
An externship is an important part of any program and it takes place after all other classes are completed. The length of externships vary, but usually they last six months. At this time, students work full-time in a medical setting such as a hospital, physician’s office or laboratory performing hands-on tasks while being supervised by an ultrasound technician.
As mentioned earlier, there are many accredited programs from which students can choose. They include:
- Allen College, Waterloo, Iowa
- Asheville-Bluncombe Technical Community College, Asheville, North Carolina
- Casper College, Casper, Wyoming
- Cypress College, Cypress California
- Dona Ana Community College, Las Cruces, New Mexico
- Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, Opp, Alabama
- Mayo Clinic of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota
- Midland College, Midland, Texas
- Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky
- Newman University, Wichita, Kansas
- Seattle University, Seattle, Washington
If you would like more information on an accredited ultrasound technician school, please contact us.