How to Become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer in North Dakota

North Dakota has a dynamic health care industry that is rapidly growing as the state’s population grows in 2013. There is a strong quality hospital system that includes St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, the Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck, and the Sanford Fargo Medical Center in Fargo, to name just three. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers will find many new career opportunities in 2014 and the following years as the health care system expands to accommodate the economic boom generated by the oil industry, which is expected to last for many years.

Requirements and Steps to Become a Sonographer in North Dakota

Becoming an ultrasound technician requires completing classes selected from a list of courses supplied by the sonography school. Coursework is then supplemented with hands-on clinical training. Where the clinic hours are completed depends on the school attended. Some schools have designated clinical facilities where sonography students must work. However, an online ultrasound program may allow students to complete clinical training hours at a local hospital or medical center. The location of clinical training is an important consideration when selecting schools to attend.

The requirements to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer will depend on the school selected and the type of degree pursued. It can take one to four years to complete a program because of the variety of degrees that can be earned. For example, in 2014 students can choose to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, which will take 4 or more years if entering the program with only a high school diploma. An Associate’s degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography can usually be earned in 2 years. A certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography is typically earned in programs designed for professionals who already have an allied health degree, have completed a hospital approved program, or are already ARDMS, CCI or ARRT registered.

Selecting a school requires careful consideration of several factors that include the following:

Is the sonography program accredited by the CAAHEP?
How many years has the program been operating?
What percentage of graduating students pass the ARDMS exams on their first attempt?
What are the credentials of the faculty?
What percentage of graduates find employment in their desired field?
What support systems are in place in terms of counseling and access to faculty?
What degrees and concentrations are offered by the school?
Where does the clinical training take place?

Attending a school with a CAAHEP-accredited sonography program is important if a student wants to become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) or a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS). Credentialing is increasingly becoming a requirement for employment.

Since states do not require licensing, the credentials serve as proof of knowledge and training. Students must complete certain requirements before they are even eligible to take the exams, which is why they should choose a CAAHEP-accredited program.

Options for Schooling

North Dakota students who want to complete a CAAHEP-accredited sonography program will have to choose distance education or attending a school in another state. North Dakota is one of a few states that does not have a CAAHEP-accredited sonography program.

There is a complete list of Diagnostic Medical Sonography schools at the school directory. South Dakota and Minnesota border North Dakota. Minnesota has 4 CAAHEP-accredited programs, South Dakota has one CAAHEP-accredited sonography program. Among the various schools and programs, students will find an excellent choice of degrees and concentrations in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

The CAAHEP has also accredited three online or distance education programs for sonography education.

Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas has been delivering a distance learning program in Diagnostic Medical Sonography for over 11 years. The program ensures students complete the necessary didactic and clinical training needed to sit for the ARDMS or CCI exams. The clinical component of the program can usually be completed in a medical center or research center that is near the student’s home or near a location convenient for the student.

Jackson College in Jackson, Michigan also has a CAAHEP-accredited program. The school makes it clear that there are more students applying than there are available program slots, so it is important to plan well ahead if this is the school of choice. Jackson College has three programs with concentrations in general, vascular and cardiac sonography that are three or four semesters long, depending on which concentration is chosen. Jackson College will also work with students to find a qualified facility where clinical training can be conveniently accessed.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee also offers online coursework. The CAAHEP lists the school as newly accredited for a distance learning program. There are two programs leading to a Bachelor’s degree. The professional program enabling students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Imaging is for people who are already worked in the medical field. The Diagnostic Imaging Completion Program paves an educational path for earning a four year degree which takes into account work experience to date. Anyone who is ARMDS, CCI or ARRT registered, or has completed a hospital-based program or Associate’s degree within the last 10 years, can apply. The University website indicates that most students can complete the entire program online.

The second degree offered by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is a Bachelor of Science degree with a Diagnostic Medical Sonography sub major. The program requires didactic coursework and clinical training. However, the clinical portion must be completed at Aurora St. Luke’s, the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, or the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Many of the classes can be taken online, but North Dakota residents will have to be willing to temporarily relocate during clinical training.