In addition to completing coursework, students do lab studies and participate in internships to obtain hands-on experience working with patients. Although AST programs are available, diagnostic medical sonography programs are more common in other associate degree formats, such as Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science. Upon completion of this program, graduates can pursue further studies or employment and professional certification in this field.
Associate Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Students develop the skills to perform various examinations, including echocardiography, Doppler, and gynecology and obstetrics procedures. They also learn to obtain and update patient records, prepare patients for transport and maintain sonographic equipment. Students expect to take courses in physics and anatomy in addition to courses addressing sonography techniques. Common course topics include:
- Cross-sectional anatomy
- Imaging principles
- Medical terminology
- Patient care in sonography
- Vascular techniques
- Abdominal sonography
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that employment opportunities should be very favorable in this field in the coming years, as sonography continues to become an attractive alternative to radiologic procedures (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, diagnostic medical sonographers would see an employment growth of 26% between 2014 and 2024. As of May 2015, this profession had a median annual wage of $68,970, stated the BLS.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Graduates can seek work immediately after graduating or may chose to advance their education by pursing higher education. They may enroll in bachelor's degree programs in health administration or may choose certificate or diploma programs in sonography, which are typically aimed at those already part of the medical field. Professional certification is another way to enhance employment opportunities. Sonographers are not required to be licensed, but many choose to become certified because employers tend to prefer hiring registered sonographers.
To become certified, candidates must complete their formal training and pass a written certification examination with a certifying organization. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) credential. The ARDMS also offers specialty certifications. Certification in specific areas of sonography can also be obtained from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist and the Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Continuing education is required to maintain certification.
An associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography covers courses such as imaging principles, vascular techniques, and abdominal sonography. Upon graduation, graduates must meet the requirements to become certified.