To become an Ultrasound tech, you can obtain your education through a local college or technical school, or you may also choose to pursue either an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree. In selecting a school that is right for you, it is important you receive your education from an accredited institution. Why? Imagine yourself in the following situation…
After looking at several schools, you decide on a non-accredited school. It is cheaper than the other schools, but looks like it offers pretty much the same education. The advertisement promises you can sit for the ARDMS exam (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography) after working only one year as an Ultrasound tech. In addition, the non-accredited school offers you job placement.
After graduation, you discover you can’t find a job anywhere. The job placement turned out to be a flop because no one returns your calls, and the school now tells you job placement is not a guarantee. No one will even hire you since you graduated from an unaccredited school. You can’t sit for the ARDMS exam because you don’t qualify. You don’t qualify because you can’t find work as an Ultrasound Tech to obtain the hours necessary for the exam. Frustrated, you finally find work as a receptionist.
Going to a non-accredited school can also leave you ill-prepared to take the ARDMS or any certification exam. One such school included the necessary Physics course, but only left three short weeks in which to teach it. Students who discover they have, unfortunately, chosen the wrong school find that transfer isn’t even an option because their credits will not transfer to another school.
Choosing an accredited school will save you both time and money. In doing things right the first time, you won’t have to re-do any part of your education process. Choosing a program that meets ARDMS requirements will also provide you a better education. You will be provided training time in a patient-care setting, rather than just classroom training. This allows you proper application of your technical skills to real-life situations.
To check accreditation of a school you are interested in, contact the CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) at www.caahep.org/.
Once in school, the Ultrasound Technician program will typically be broken down into three sections: your classroom study, lab, and externship. The courses themselves may also be taught in two sections: lectures and lab (containing your clinical instruction).
Depending on your program (community or vocational college, Associates or Bachelors Degree) you may have core classes you will need to take in order to become qualified for the ultrasound technician program. A clear outline of your core classes will be provided to you by the program of your choice. These prerequisite classes allow a strong backbone in Sciences to form, providing the perfect learning platform for students entering the Ultrasound Technician program.
Some of the courses you will be taking may include the following:
This course is typically a prerequisite to ultrasound technician programs. In this course, you will learn how to pronounce, spell and define medical terms. You will learn the root, prefixes and suffixes which will help you to breakdown unfamiliar words, and then correctly identify them. You will also learn how to decipher medical abbreviations.
A course very similar to medical terminology, medical etymology, is also suggested as a core course. In the medical etymology course the origin of medical terms and words is explored. Most medical terms (words) derive from Latin or Greek. An example of medical etymology is “diabetes”, deriving from the word siphon (in Greek).
In this course, you will be taught the characteristics and classifications of living organisms. You will become familiar with prefixes and suffixes of biology terms, as well as word dissections. You will also become knowledgeable on the pyramid structures of life, as well as taxonomy. Taxonomy is the practice of identifying, describing and arranging all living organisms into classifications. While over one million species have already been named, an estimated five to thirty million remain unknown.
This course will familiarize you with the various structures of the human body. Ultrasound Technicians must have a full and complete understanding of the location of organs within the body structure. This course will teach you how to proficiently locate, and analyze, body parts and organs for ultrasound imaging.
Ultrasound Technicians work closely with patients while obtaining the ultrasound images necessary for diagnosis or care. This course will teach you proper positioning of a patient. Perhaps more importantly, this course will instruct you how to obtain proper positioning of a patient that is already quite ill, in a safe, competent and compassionate manner. This course also prepares ultrasound technicians proper management and care of patients during the imaging process. You will learn communication skills and examine the physiological and legal issues that concern the profession of sonography.
Physiology is often coupled with Anatomy, as form and function connect. While Anatomy will provide you a thorough understanding of where organs and body parts are, Physiology teaches you how such anatomy functions. Physiology teaches you the mechanical, biochemical and physical functions of cells, tissues, organs and organ systems within the human body, such as the heart (cardiac physiology) and blood vessels.
In this course, you will learn the relevance of ethics in healthcare, proper conduct and etiquette within the workplace and ethical dilemmas that arise in the healthcare field such as end of life decisions and treating patients with AIDS or HIV. This course will provide you a solid understanding of patient confidentiality, autonomy, and medical negligence. You will also study global growth of medical ethics, and understand the need for self-regulation.
In this course, you will study the principles of motion, energy and the properties of matter. You will learn about momentum, electromagnetism, and two-dimensional dynamics and kinematics. This course will also teach you mechanics, rotational and circular motion, as well as projectile and linear motion. The Physics course will present Newton’s Laws of Motion (there are three), such as inertia and balanced versus unbalanced forces.
While in school, you will look forward to each new day of learning and find yourself filled with purpose and excitement. The road towards becoming an Ultrasound Technician is as rewarding, exciting and mentally challenging as the position itself.