Sonography is a promising and rewarding — and demanding — career choice. There's a lot to consider as you learn about this profession, the educational requirements to prepare for it, and the benefits of St. Kate's approach to sonography education.
A recognized credential
Upon completion of the program, graduates are awarded an associate of applied science degree and are eligible to take the national registry exams in ultrasound physics, abdominal ultrasound and obstetrical and gynecological ultrasound.
This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs (CAAHEP), upon recommendation of the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS).
Is sonography right for you?
Diagnostic medical sonographers are highly-skilled professionals who use specialized equipment to create images of structures inside the human body that are used by physicians to make medical diagnoses.
The process involves placing a small device called a transducer against the patient's skin near the body area to be imaged. The transducer sends a stream of high frequency sound waves that bounce off internal bodily structures. A computer analyzes these sounds to make an image of the structure(s) on a screen.
Sonographers have extensive, direct patient contact that may include performing some invasive procedures. They must be able to interact compassionately and effectively with people who range from healthy to critically ill.
Professional responsibilities include, but are not limited, to:
- Obtaining and recording an accurate patient history
- Performing diagnostic procedures and obtaining diagnostic images
- Analyzing technical information
- Using independent judgment in recognizing the need to extend the scope of the procedure according to the diagnostic findings
- Providing an oral or written summary of the technical findings to the physician for medical diagnosis
- Providing quality patient care
- Collaborating with physicians and other members of the health care team.
Sonographers must also be knowledgeable about and limit the risk from possible exposure to blood and body fluids.
Many sonographers also assist in electronic and clerical scheduling, record keeping, and computerized image archiving. Sonographers may also have managerial or supervisory responsibilities.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2018.
For national information on compensation for sonographers, see the BLS occupational employment and wages report.
For additional information on career prospects for sonographers, see the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography's web site.
While the long-term occupational outlook for sonographers is strong, hiring conditions in the Twin Cities varies from year to year, depending on a wide variety of factors at area employers.
What are some of the technical standards?
Sonographers and vascular technologists must be able to:
- Lift more than 50 pounds routinely
- Push and pull routinely
- Bend and stoop routinely
- Have full use of both hands, wrists and shoulders
- Distinguish audible sounds
- Adequately view sonograms, including color distinctions
- Work standing on their feet 80 percent of the time
- Interact compassionately and effectively with the sick or injured
- Assist patients on and off examining tables
- Communicate effectively with patients and other health care professionals
- Organize and accurately perform the individual steps in a sonographic procedure in the proper sequence
Criminal background study:
Any individual who has direct contact with patients and residents at health care facilities licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health must have a criminal background check completed.
The results are kept on file in the Sonography Program before students begin their clinical experiences. Any student who does not pass the criminal background check will not be permitted to participate in clinical experiences — and will be ineligible to progress in the program.
"If you have been arrested, charged or convicted of any criminal offense, you should investigate the impact that the arrest, charge or conviction may have on your chances of employment in the field you intend to study or on your chances to obtain federal, state, and other higher education financial aid."
Criminal background studies are performed annually. Questions and appeals should be direct to:
Minnesota Department of Human Services
444 Lafayette Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55144-3824