Associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography contain a clinical component in addition to laboratory experiences and classroom lectures. The primary goal of an associate's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography is to provide students with the education and training necessary to operate sonography equipment, which uses high-frequency sound waves to take images of a patient's internal organs. Aspiring diagnostic medical sonographers learn first-hand how to prep patients for examinations, perform and analyze diagnostic scans and work alongside licensed medical personnel. Graduation often requires completion of a clinical practicum.
Students seeking entry into this program typically need to have a high school diploma or GED, undergo a criminal background check and drug screen, and submit documentation of current immunizations.
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Associate's Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography are divided into either four or six semesters. In the first half of the program, students gain comprehensive knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, medical procedures, and healthcare safety before learning to operate diagnostic imaging equipment. The second half focuses on direct laboratory and clinical experience. Some programs also allow students to specialize in particular aspects of the field, such as abdominal sonography or obstetrics. Topics addressed in this program might include:
- Medical ethics
- Medical terminology
- Ultrasound physics
- Cross-sectional anatomy
- OB/GYN sonography
- Diagnostic medical sonography principles
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Increasing demand for diagnostic imaging professionals in the healthcare field is expected to cause the employment rate for diagnostic medical sonographers to rise 26% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of May 2015, these workers made a yearly median salary of $68,970, as reported by the BLS.
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) provides the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) certification to professionals who pass an examination. While certification is not strictly required by any state, many employers do choose to hire individuals who have earned the RDMS credential. Sonographers can also choose to gain specific certification in vascular, breast or cardiac sonography.
Associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography teach students how to operate sonography equipment, prep patients for examinations and create images used for diagnostic purposes. Graduates should be prepares to seek certification, which is required by some employers.