Sonography, or ultrasonography is the use of sound waves to generate an image for the assessment and diagnosis of various medical conditions. Sonography is commonly associated with obstetrics and the use of ultrasound imaging during pregnancy, but this technology has many other applications in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions throughout the body. Diagnostic medical sonographers may specialize in obstetric and gynecologic sonography (images of the female reproductive system), abdominal sonography (images of the liver, kidneys, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas), neuro-sonography (images of the brain and other parts of the nervous system), breast sonography, or additional areas of specialization.
Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers specialize in the imaging of the female reproductive system. Included in the discipline is one of the more well-known uses of sonography: examining the fetus of a pregnant woman to track the baby’s growth and health.
Abdominal sonographers inspect a patient’s abdominal cavity to help diagnose and treat conditions primarily involving the gallbladder, bile ducts, kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen, and male reproductive system. Abdominal sonographers also are able to scan parts of the chest, although studies of the heart using sonography usually are done by echo-cardiographers.
Breast sonographers use sonography to study diseases of the breasts. Sonography aids mammography in the detection of breast cancer. Breast sonography also is used to track tumors, monitor blood supply conditions, and assist in the accurate biopsy of breast tissue. Breast sonographers use high-frequency transducers made exclusively to study breast tissue.
Personal and Technical Characteristics
Essential skills required to be an effective Sonographer include:
- Good patient relationship skills
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking skills
- Team player attitude
- Ability to work independently
- Effective under pressure
- Ability to work with many interruptions
- Ability to remember and recall a large amount of information
- Ability to assess patient and other situations rapidly
- Ability to maintain patient confidentiality at all times
- Sitting < 2 hours/day
- Standing 80%
- Walking 4-6 hours/day
- Reaching frequently
- Moderate amount of stooping
- Moderate amount of crouching
- Manual dexterity
- Grasping ability
- Pushing ability
- Pulling ability
- Visual ability: Including ability to view images in dimmed light and ability to see color
- Hearing ability: subtle voices and in stereo
- Clear dictation/speech
- Ability to work long/irregular hours
Sonographer Work Environment
• Sonographers typically work in healthcare facilities that are clean. They usually work at diagnostic imaging machines in darkened rooms, but they also may perform procedures at patients’ bedsides. Sonographers may be on their feet for long periods of time and may have to lift or turn disabled patients.
• Some sonographers work as contract employees and may travel to several healthcare facilities in an area. Similarly, some sonographers work with mobile imaging service providers and travel to patients and use mobile diagnostic imaging equipment to provide service in areas that otherwise would not have access to such services.
• Most full-time sonographers work about 40 hours a week. Some sonographers work overtime. Also, sonographers may have evening and weekend hours when they are on call and must be ready to report to work on short notice
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
• Diagnostic Medical Sonographers use special equipment to direct high frequency sound waves into areas of the patient’s body. Sonographers operate the equipment, which collects reflected echoes and forms an image that may be videotaped, transmitted, or photographed for interpretation and diagnosis by a physician.
• Sonographers begin by explaining the procedure to the patient and recording any medical history that may be relevant to the condition being viewed. They then select appropriate equipment settings and direct the patient to move into positions that will provide the best view. To perform the exam, sonographers use a transducer, which transmits sound waves in a cone-shaped or rectangle-shaped beam. Although techniques vary by the area being examined, sonographers usually spread a special gel on the skin to aid the transmission of sound waves.
• Viewing the screen during the scan, sonographers look for subtle visual cues that contrast healthy areas with unhealthy ones. They decide whether the images are satisfactory for diagnostic purposes and select which ones to store and show to the physician. Sonographers take measurements, calculate values, and analyze the results in preliminary findings for the physicians.
• In addition to working directly with patients, diagnostic medical sonographers keep patient records and adjust and maintain equipment. They also may prepare work schedules, evaluate equipment purchases, or manage a sonography or diagnostic imaging department
1. Must be at least 18 years of age
2. High School Diploma or equivalent
3. An Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree (or higher) in any discipline.
A 3.0 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) from all higher education institutions attended, regardless of degree awarded. A cumulative GPA is calculated by weighing the CGPAs from each institution attended by credits earned and adjusting for the difference between semester and quarter credits (1.0 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits). Calculations will be made based on all official transcripts submitted.
4. Successful completion of the following pre-requisite courses within the past 10 years. (Must have at least a 2.5 GPA in science pre-requisite courses). Academic requirements specified below must be completed at a regionally accredited institution: Successful completion (defined as receiving a grade of “C” or higher) of college-level coursework in the subjects below. CCMCC does not accept Pass/Fail or Credit/No Credit grades in fulfillment of admissions prerequisites. Courses must be a minimum of 3 semester or 4 quarter credits.
- Human Anatomy & Physiology with a lab
- Medical Terminology
- Oral Communication (i.e. Speech)
- Written Communication (English Composition)
- College Algebra or higher level mathematics
- Physics *recommended, not required to apply.
Course work must be college level, completed and documented in an officially sealed transcript.
5. WONDERLIC SLE admissions score of 18 or higher
6. Criminal history background check – Note: If you have been convicted, found guilty of, or pled nolo contendere to any crime (felony or misdemeanor), other than a speeding or parking violation, you MUST seek clarification from the ARDMS at www.ardms.org, as to your eligibility to apply for ARDMS examination.
7. Health screening (Due upon acceptance) and immunizations. Note: TB testing is required just prior to placement into clinical externship.
8. Physical Requirements You must be physically able to:
- Stand/walk up to 8 hours during an 8-hour shift
- Lift/move a maximum of a 300-pound patient in a 2-person/3-person transfer
- Operate and manipulate all sonography equipment
- Reach forward 18 inches holding an object up to 15 pounds
- Bend, crouch, or stoop 20 times per hour
- Push a patient in a wheelchair or gurney 300 feet or further, as required by structural design of the building
- Move loads of up to 45 pounds 25 times per hour
- Adequately differentiate sonographic images with subtle gray-scale and color distinctions
- Adequately distinguish audible sounds in a Doppler signal
9. Drug testing (required by CCMCC prior to the first day of class and the clinical externship sites prior to placement)
10. Current BLS for the Healthcare Provider certification through the American Heart Association.
11. 2 letters of recommendation
12. Panel Interview
Overall employment of diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians is projected to grow 17 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the large baby-boom population ages, the need to diagnose medical conditions—such as blood clots and heart disease—will likely increase. Imaging technology is a tool used in making these diagnoses. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm
Contra Costa Medical Career College DMS Program is Nationally Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, Recognized by the US Department of Education, and Approved by the California State Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Graduates from this program are eligible to sit for the ARRT Exam. After graduates take and pass the ARRT exam they will be eligible to sit for the ARDMS exam.
The Contra Costa Medical Career College Diagnostic Medical Sonography program entrance exam availability and application process will begin Monday, March 2, 2020 at 9:00am. The application deadline is Friday, May 8, 2020 at 4:00pm. Successful candidate interviews will be ongoing as applications are received. Eighteen qualified students will be accepted into the June 2020 evening program. All applicants will be notified of acceptance or non-acceptance by early June 2020. Mandatory orientation will be held soon after acceptance letters have been announced, at which time half of the program tuition will be due. Students will purchase textbooks, scrubs and complete the mandatory drug screen and background check at this time. The 2020 evening cohort is scheduled to begin Monday, June 29, 2020.