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Ultrasound Schools - Training Program Questions

You've got questions about ultrasound technician programs, and we've got answers. Read our FAQ's to obtain answers to some of your most pressing ultrasound training questions.

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a form of non-invasive medical imaging. Transducers and high-frequency sound are used to create an image of a patient's tissues, hemodynamics (blood flow), and internal organs. The image is then used for the purpose of medical diagnosis. Diagnostic ultrasound is also referred to as sonography or ultrasonography.

Is ultrasound safe?

Yes. While organizations, such as the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) and Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS), are lobbying to prohibit the non-medical, entertainment use of ultrasound, its controlled application for medical purposes has not been found to have harmful effects.

How is ultrasound used in medicine?

Ultrasound is used in several areas of medicine, relating to different organ systems and health conditions. For example...

  • Soft tissues, blood vessels, and organs in the upper and lower abdominal cavities (bile ducts, gallbladder, liver, kidney, pancreas, spleen, and urinary tract) can all be examined.
  • It's used to identify specific abdominal conditions, from gallstones, kidney stones, and hernias to pancreatitis and appendicitis to inflammation of the small and large intestines to enlargements of the spleen or liver to the cause of kidney failure.
  • It's used to evaluate breast abnormalities, found during mammography, which might indicate the presence of breast cancer.
  • It's used in Obstetrics and Gynecology to monitor fetus development and evaluate the health of the female reproductive system.
  • It's used in Echocardiography, Neurosonology, and Ophthalmology to examine the heart (including its valves, related blood vessels, and blood flow), the brain and spinal cord, and the eye, respectively.

Who performs ultrasound exams?

A trained and qualified ultrasound technician (diagnostic sonographer), vascular technologist, or other allied health professional certified in ultrasound performs ultrasound examinations.

What does an ultrasound technician do?

Ultrasound technicians are the ones who operate the equipment that sends sound waves into the body to create images of a patient's internal tissue and structures. The ultrasound technician then assists a physician in interpreting the imaging in order to provide the patient an accurate diagnosis. Ultrasound technicians also interact directly with ill patients, record patient information, prepare patient histories, and manage and maintain ultrasound facilities and equipment.

How do I train to become an ultrasound technician?

Ultrasound technicians train at vocational schools and four-year colleges and universities. Ultrasound schools offer basic certificates, two-year associate's degrees, and bachelor's degrees.

Upon completion of an ultrasound technician program, some technicians pursue additional credentials, such as registration with the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Many also pursue continuing education credits though trade organizations, such as the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) or American Society of Neuroimaging.

Find out more about ultrasound schools.

What is covered at ultrasound technician schools?

During ultrasound technician training, students may receive hands-on instructions in:

  • sonographic physics and instrumentation
  • gray scale and color-flow Doppler sonography
  • human anatomy and physiology
  • medical terminology and ethics

Many ultrasound training programs may also require the completion of an unpaid clinical externship in a professional ultrasound facility.

How can I specialize in different areas of ultrasound?

Diagnostic medical sonographers may specialize in different areas, including abdominal, vascular, neurologic, obstetrical/gynecologic, and ophthalmic (eye) ultrasound.

How does pursuing a certification in ultrasound technician program help?

Pursuing a registered ultrasound technician or sonographer through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) may increase your credibility with potential employers at hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities.