Ultrasound is a challenging career. It is used to examine disease process in the body without the use of ionizing radiation, which is used in x-ray, computed tomography (CT), and nuclear medicine. Diagnostic ultrasound is the use of high-frequency sound waves to obtain images. Frequencies generally range from 2 MHz to 15 MHz. Those who are planning to become a sonographer should plan carefully.

Basic Education

Diagnostic medical sonography programs are quite competitive. Those wishing to apply should achieve a high grade point average, preferably 3.9 to 4.0. Community colleges provide the opportunity to obtain a college record for those graduating from high school, and to improve upon previous college grades for those who need to raise their college GPA.

Many sonography programs require some basic college courses before entering into the sonography program. Medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, math, and writing are among the requirements. One should speak to the advisor for the desired sonography program to find out more about the necessary prerequisites.

Diagnostic Medical Sonography Education

An accredited sonography program is desirable because students can take the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers registry exam upon graduation. Graduates of an unaccredited program must acquire one year of professional experience before applying to sit for the exam.

Sonography programs consist of two portions: didactic and clinical. The didactic portion is classroom work. Students learn the basics of ultrasound, ultrasound physics, and more detailed physiology and pathophysiology. Students are assigned to clinical sites, or hospitals and clinics, to learn how to scan. Some programs rotate students through several hospitals and clinics, while others assign students to one sonographer over the course of the year.

Applying for Ultrasound Jobs

Students should apply for sonography jobs two to three months before graduation as it can take this long for hospitals to offer an interview to potential candidates. Students are often hired under the agreement that they will sit for the registry exam within one year of their hire date. Many job opportunities include sign-on bonuses and money for relocation.

Sonography Certification

Diagnostic medical sonography certification is challenging. The registry exam is quite difficult and will require plenty of studying. Everyone must take the physics exam in addition to the specialization exam(s) of choice. There are many useful study guides available and they are highly recommended. Acquiring the RDMS credential will open the door to many more job opportunities and, in some hospitals, higher pay.