What other areas of study are related to my sonography program?
Sonography is a specialization within the field of radiology. In fact, it is the only specialization within radiology that uses sound waves instead of radiation to create internal body images known as ultrasounds. Radiologists, on the other hand, perform diagnostic body imaging examinations using radiation to produce x rays and PET scans, and using magnetic and radio waves to produce MRI images.
While there are unspecialized sonographers, some focus on specific parts of the body. For example, echocardiographers, who are also known as a cardiac sonographers or cardiovascular technologists, use ultrasounds, which are high frequency sound waves, to examine the heart, blood flow and muscle and valve functioning. Although they typically do not diagnose patients, they report their findings.
Similar to cardiac sonographers, vascular technologists use ultrasound imaging technology to help physicians diagnose both cardiac and blood vessel ailments in patients, such as blood clots and artery blockages.
What internships should I pursue during my on-campus or online sonography degree program?
Almost every accredited sonography program provides internships for its students. It is often a graduation requirement, along with clinic hours, even if you are enrolled in an sonography program. This is especially true if you are seeking a bachelors in sonography.
Programs requiring online and on-campus sonography students to complete on-campus clinic hours usually also coordinate internships for its students. However, if an internship is not provided, you should coordinate your own internship at a hospital or research center approved by your program.
Seek an internship at a university hospital or a research center looking for unpaid interns; it may be the best method for securing practical experience. Arranging an internship with your program’s university hospital, if it has 1, will also make the process easier since they usually have an established relationship with the program.
However, if your program does not have a relationship with a university hospital, look for a community or research hospital willing to allow practical training in abdominal, small parts, obstetrical and gynecological ultrasounds. These are the basic imaging techniques every sonographer should know.
Are there any movies or TV shows that I might enjoy during my sonography degree program?
There are several medical TV shows and pregnancy movies that can help you explore the patient-doctor relationship and relationships among team members that sonography programs touch upon. They also demonstrate the practical application of sonography and other diagnostic imaging tools. You may find the following TV shows enlightening:
House is a show about an unconventional and witty diagnostic medical doctor who purposefully aggravates his medical team as they try to outsmart him. He regularly diagnoses patients using various diagnostic tools such as MRIs and echocardiograms. As diagnosticians, these doctors rely on several different forms of radiologic diagnostic tools, of which sonography is one.
Private Practice, a spinoff of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy, follows Dr. Addison Montgomery, a neonatal surgeon and OB/GYN, into private practice. As part of her practice, she frequently uses sonographic imaging to monitor growing fetuses. This show demonstrates how ultrasounds are used to diagnose abnormalities in fetuses and justify performing neonatal surgery.
Juno, a comedic film about a teenager who accidentally gets pregnant and decides to give her baby up for adoption, chronicles the main character’s pregnancy. Several scenes show ultrasounds of the fetus and hint at the role of the sonographer as diagnostician.
Are there any accelerated campus-based or online sonography programs to help me finish my degree faster?
The easiest and fastest way to finish a program in sonography is to complete a certificate program, which is available for both on-campus and online programs. Certificate programs are the shortest programs, usually lasting 13 to 18 months depending on the program, and there are online certificate programs that allow 100% of coursework, including clinic hours, to be completed off-campus.
Washburn University’s certificate program, for example, is considered one of the best programs online and simply requires that you make your own arrangements to complete your clinic hours at another location.
Within sonography programs, a variety of certificate courses are available to you such as medical sonography, cardiac sonography and vascular technology, so finding a program should not be a concern. However, as the name suggests, completing a certificate program does not qualify you for a degree; rather, it prepares you for the certification and registry exam, which is all that is necessary to begin an entry-level position.
If you are seeking an accelerated bachelors degree in sonography, there are 3-year programs available. For instance, the program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences can be completed in 36 months and allows students to choose from the general sonography track or the echocardiography track while still providing some of the best clinical opportunities in Boston.