How to Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
So you’ve decided to pursue a career in diagnostic medical sonography. Congratulations! You’re embarking on a fun and exciting occupation. Whether you already have experience in the healthcare industry or are looking to pursue a new career entirely, a diagnostic medical sonography (DMS) program is designed to give you all of the skills you need to find work straight out of school, and feel prepared doing so.
Because becoming a member of a diagnostic medical sonography program is usually a selective application process, we’ve compiled a list of the steps to help you apply and enroll with ease. Depending on the school you choose, these steps may vary slightly.
1. Plan a Visit to the Campus
By now, you probably have a feeling that becoming a sonographer is a great fit for you. Now, it’s important to determine where you’d like to go to school. Maybe you’d like to stay in your hometown, or perhaps setting out for a new location is a more enticing opportunity.
Wherever you want to attend an ultrasound technologist school, know that there are excellent future employment opportunities throughout the country. It’s important to visit the school campus to locate classrooms, labs, and get a feel for the atmosphere.
You can observe students and instructors and see how the environment functions to get a better idea if it’s the right place for you. While touring the facilities, you will meet with a member of the admissions team. Together, you’ll go over your educational and student history as well as how you can achieve your goals.
Your admissions representative will discuss program details and what your options are in terms of courses, pricing, and financial aid. They will go over all application and enrollment procedures with you as well.
2. Apply for Financial Aid
Many students can afford their education thanks to financial aid, and most technical colleges offer eligibility as well. If you hope to receive financial aid, be sure to submit your FAFSA application at least 4 to 5 days before applying for the DMS program. This is a fairly straightforward process, and takes less than an hour to complete.
3. Complete Your Application
Many schools have rolling admissions. This means that prospective students are welcome to apply for any program, so long as the start dates have been determined. For some schools, students are required to turn in their application for the diagnostic medical sonography program on campus.
During their application appointment, they will need to submit all required documents, complete an interview with the DMS program director, and pass an entrance exam such as the Wonderlic SLE.
Why Is an Entrance Exam Important?
Many allied health, nursing, and police training programs require applicants to pass an entrance exam before they can be admitted. These exams evaluate a candidate’s general mental aptitude, and help determine whether the student will be able to handle the educational requirements of the program. They are also a great way to determine whether a prospective student is the right fit for their program.
4. Wait for the Decision
Waiting for an answer is likely the most stressful of the steps. Luckily, many technical schools fast-track applications, and prospective students are often notified of a decision within 1 to 2 weeks.
How Is Acceptance Determined?
Technical schools typically use a variety of factors when reviewing diagnostic medical sonographer applications. In addition to the highest level of completed education, schools will also consider an applicant's GPA, prior experience in healthcare, letters of reference, entrance exam score, and performance during the interview.
Due to the competitiveness of these programs, the strongest student candidates will have already completed college courses in health sciences. The higher their GPA, the better the chance of acceptance.
5. Complete Enrollment in Your DMS Courses
For students who are accepted into a DMS program, they are required to set up an appointment to complete the enrollment process. This includes signing your enrollment contract and completing any further required documents.
6. Attend Orientation
Either before or on the first day of classes, students in the DMS program must attend a mandatory orientation. This is a great opportunity to learn about your school’s policies and procedures. Students will learn about the grading and attendance policies, and various other rules and regulations for the school.
7. Start Your Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program
With a CAAHEP-accredited DMS certificate program, students will come to understand the principles that comprise DMS scanning technology. This includes the acquirement of the instrumentation skills necessary for successful abdominal and OB/GYN sonography. Some programs also include training in vascular sonography.
8. Complete Your Clinical Internship
A thorough training program provides classroom instruction, hands-on training, and a clinical internship that can last 6 to 12 months. The internship helps students gain proficiency by working alongside a mentor. The professional trains students to create ultrasound images that will assist doctors' with their diagnoses.