How do You Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer?

Diagnostic Medical Sonography is an allied health specialty focused on performing live imaging using ultrasound technology to create images of the body’s tissues and organs. While no two diagnostic medical sonographer training programs are alike, there area some key components that you should be aware of when selecting and applying to a program.

Look for an Accredited Program

Because Diagnostic Medical Sonography is a medical practice, it is important that you choose a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Many states require that potential sonographers graduate from an accredited program prior to earning licensure to practice.

Choosing Associates or Bachelors

While Diagnostic Medical Sonographers are eligible to practice with either two-year or four-year, associate or bachelors, degrees, there are some distinct differences between these two options. Completing an associates degree training program will ultimately require less time, and money, than a four-year degree, and may enable you to get out into the workforce sooner. On the other hand, earning a bachelor’s degree may open up more job opportunities for you in the long term, and may lead to faster job advancement than your peers with associates-level training. Graduates of bachelor-level degrees also have the benefit of being able to apply to graduate-level programs, including medical programs or masters programs in healthcare.

Completing Prerequisites

Because Diagnostic Medical Sonographer training programs are medical in nature, they are often partnered with schools of medicine or allied health. In many cases, you will need to complete one to two years worth of college-level course work before applying. While the specific prerequisite courses will vary from school to school, expect to take courses in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, Math, and English while completing these prerequisites. Contact the Diagnostic Medical Sonography training program or programs that you are interested in for a list of specific coursework required.

Completing the Application

In most cases, you will apply to your Diagnostic Medical Sonography program approximately six-months, or one semester, prior to starting. This application is made up of some basic demographic information, a list of your coursework, and a personal statement explaining why you want to pursue a career in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. It would be a good idea to meet with your school’s medical or allied health professions advisor for tips on applying to specific Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs. You may also want to have your personal statement reviewed by your school’s career counselor, as this statement often parallels a resume cover letter. In it you will discuss who you are, why you are pursuing a career in sonography, and why you believe you are a good candidate.

Acing the Interview

If you are selected for an interview, you will want to make sure to stand out from the crowd. Schedule a mock interview with your school’s career counselor to practice your interviewing skills and get feedback on your performance. Look up common questions asked during these interviews to prepare yourself for any tough questions that might get thrown your way. Above all though, just be yourself. As a sonographer, you will be working with patients who may be concerned, scared, or in pain. Because of that, training programs are looking for people with a calm, friendly, and caring bedside manner. Make sure to let that show during your interview.

The field of sonography is growing at a pace faster than more jobs in the U.S. and is considered to be one of the best jobs in health care support. With this information at your fingertips, you’re already on the path to becoming a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.

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