Due to the clinical requirements, initial degree programs for ultrasound technicians cannot be offered totally online. However, certified diagnostic medical sonographers or radiologic technologists can enroll in an online completion program. Some are hybrid programs with both online and on-campus requirements, but others can be completed 100% online. Clinical practice is usually not necessary.
An online completion program usually takes about two years of study and requires students to already have a associate's degree and certification. Lectures and course materials can be viewed as the student's schedule allows, making these programs suitable for working students. Courses cover various types of ultrasound, such as vascular and cardiovascular, as well as topics such as pharmacology.
Most employers prefer to hire applicants who are certified by a professional organization, and some states require certification. Students should make sure that any online program they are considering meets standards for certification.
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Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
The few online bachelor's degree programs for ultrasound technicians available are usually completion programs, which require students to have basic-to-intermediate knowledge of sonography at the associate's degree level. Some completion programs only admit individuals who are certified in sonography by such associations as the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Courses provide in-depth content related to internal imaging and clinical application. Students emerge from this program prepared to educate patients about ultrasound technology, execute sonography procedures and document results for physician use. A B.S. in Diagnostic Medical Sonography qualifies graduates to hold management positions or specialize in an area of sonography, such as obstetric, breast and abdomen.
Program Information and Requirements
Some bachelor's programs in diagnostic medical sonography are completely online, while others integrate on-site experience with distance-learning courses. Students access all lectures, readings and assignments through a school's website. Individuals needing clinical experience negotiate a work arrangement with a local medical facility; in some cases, schools may be able to help with these arrangements. A full bachelor's degree program typically takes four years to complete, but a completion program may be finished in two years.
An educational software site, such as Blackboard, may distribute the course content. The basic technical requirements for participation include an up-to-date computer, Internet access and e-mail account.
An online bachelor's degree program for ultrasound technicians includes general education courses, such as mathematics, composition and psychology.
This course examines how practitioners can use sonography to recognize normal and abnormal anatomical features in the abdomen. Students build on previous coursework in learning to diagnose a number of pathological states.
Instructors explain the metabolic, toxic and therapeutic effects of drugs. Course work emphasizes how drugs can affect the visualization of organs.
Students engage in a deeper exploration of the vascular system and how to capture its image with sonography. Scanning technique, video evaluation and patient care are among the topics considered.
This course focuses on the use of sonography to image the heart and its major vessels. Students learn to correlate clinical data and imaging results to facilitate the diagnostic process.
Graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography commonly work as ultrasound technicians and sonographers. A majority of ultrasound technicians work in hospitals, but wider adoption of the technology creates job opportunities in private doctor's offices and clinics. Some sonographers also establish a client base and work as independent contractors, moving from facility to facility. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicted that employment of diagnostic medical sonographers would increase 26% between the years 2014 and 2024. The mean annual wage for diagnostic medical sonographers was $70,880 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Even though states don't require licensure to work in diagnostic medical sonography, ultrasound technicians can improve their employment prospects by passing a certification examination. The ARDMS and ARRT offer certification to individuals who meet requirements and pass exams. Preparation materials for the exams are available online, but the actual exams are not. The ARDMS even has specialty exams for different credentials, such neurosonology, vascular technology and echocardiography (www.ardms.org).
Students wanting to start their training in ultrasound technology may have to settle for a hybrid associate's degree program, which includes clinical training. After earning this degree and certification sonographers may seek entry level employment and enrollment in an online completion program in pursuit of a bachelor's degree.