Cardiac Sonography Frequently Asked Questions
Jackson College has compiled this information to assist you as you are preparing for the Cardiac Sonography Program.
Who is a Sonographer?
- A professional who works directly with patients in performing sonographic diagnostic procedures.
- A professional who performs diagnostic procedures/tests (tests that are non-invasive, without puncturing or performing incisions on a patient).
- A professional who provides physicians with medical diagnostic information on the structure and function of the area of the body in question.
What is the nature of a sonographer’s work and what do they do?
Sonographers are medical professional who operate ultrasonic imaging devices to produce diagnostic images and scans, videos or 3D volumes of anatomy and diagnostic data. Sonography requires specialized education and skills to view, analyze and modify the scan to optimize the information in the image. Because of the high levels of decisional latitude and diagnostic responsibility sonographers perform diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds and imaging.
Where do sonographers work? Where are job opportunities available?
- Many opportunities are available throughout the United States for experienced and qualified individuals.
- Clinics, mobile health services, physician’s offices, and hospitals have open positions.
- Medical industry companies also offer work in research and development, sales and marketing, which provide opportunities for international travel.
How much money could I make in this line of work?
Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists can earn wages between $60,570 to $77,740.
For more career information, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics.
Is sonography right for me?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you like science?
- Do you like math?
- Do you like to figure things out on your own?
- Do you like to work independently?
- Do you like to interact with other people?
- Do you like to use technology?
- Do you like to be challenged with new ideas?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then maybe Sonography is right for you!
How do I learn the skills to become a sonographer? What methods are used to teach students?
- Accredited schools that offer Associate or Bachelor Degrees require you to participate in lecture, lab, clinical and didactic settings.
- Normal course work includes a minimum of one year of didactic lectures and class work, followed by an internship in the different diagnostic procedure settings.
- Be careful choosing your school. CAAHEP accredited programs may be required for certification. Jackson College Sonography programs are accredited and listed on CAAHEP. For more information, go towww.caahep.org or the website for ARDMS at www.ardms.org.
I am interested in Jackson College’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography distance learning/online program. Can I complete the program from home?
No, this program still requires the student to complete the clinical requirements in a clinical setting with real patients. The only courses offered online are the didactic courses which allows a student to have a clinical setting close to them and finish the course work online rather than commuting to Jackson College. All students admitted to the program will be required to attend a pre-clinical lab orientation prior to beginning their clinical education of the sonography program. The lab course will prepare the student for clinical experience on central campus. Any student unable to attend the scanning lab course on JC’s central campus due to geographical travel restrictions may be eligible to complete the course through online delivery method in their geographical location. It should be noted that this is rare and most clinical sites do not agree to accept this responsibility. The following circumstances will be considered to determine eligibility of hybrid delivery method:
- Clinical site location
- Program Director approval
- Clinical site (affiliate) approval.
The following conditions must be met once eligibility status has been approved:
A clinical site willing to sponsor the student must meet the minimum requirements of a clinical affiliate listed below:
- A current affiliation agreement
- Completed, submitted and approved CC and CV forms.
- Appropriate credentialed sonographers willing to facilitate the course requirements.
- The sponsoring clinical site must be willing to work with student to complete the lab course competencies for the course.
- A cleared background check, drug screen and health physical form including immunization forms must be updated in the Allied Health Office one month prior to the start of the course.
How many hours a week must I attend clinical?
Each Sonography program is different. You can expect to be in the clinical setting 24-32 hours a week for nearly a year.
Can I go to clinical at night or on weekends?
Not typically. Accreditation requires students to be placed in the best learning situations. This is typically Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm when the majority of the staff and patients are scheduled. Students may also be expected to rotate to other shifts for different experiences.
Can I work while going through this program?
While we cannot control what you do in your own time, we strongly recommend that you do not try to work while going through the program. Some of our programs require a minimum 40 hours per week commitment, which does not account for studying time or commuting time to and from clinical assignments. It is estimated that an average of 50-60 hours of dedication is need to be successful in these programs. Adding work requirements in addition to these 50-60 hours has typically caused poor outcomes. The programs are a full time commitment. Currently, there are no part-time options.
How much does the DMS program cost?
The cost of the program depends on which program you choose, where you live and how many credits, if any, you transfer to Jackson College. You will first need to know which program you are interested in.
Tuition and fees are subject to change at any time. Program cost information will be updated at the beginning of each academic year. To get the most up to date information, please visit the tuition & fees web page.
How does the admission process for the DMS programs work?
The admissions process is based on a point system awarding points to grade(s) in courses such as Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, Introduction to Sonographic instrumentation, etc… Also, students that have a health background will be given points toward the selective admission process.
- There is no waiting list for these programs. You must reapply each year if you are not accepted into the program after your first application.
- High grades, related Allied Health experience, and job shadowing experiences positively influences your chances to secure a spot in the program. NOTE: Jackson College does not assist in finding job shadowing opportunities.
- There are approximately 25 seats available annually within each program; however, the actual number of students accepted into the Sonography programs is determined by how many clinical sites are available to host Jackson College students. Most clinical sites are a 1:1 student to clinical site ratio.
- Students may be required to complete a criminal background check and drug screen. Failure to pass may prevent admission into a Sonography program. Some convictions may result in the student being ineligible to sit for the ARDMS exam. It is the student’s responsibility to verify eligibility directly with ARDMS.
- Participation of clinical sites varies each year. While Jackson College uses its best efforts to negotiate clinical sites, even after they become available they can become unavailable for reasons beyond the control of JC and in that event Jackson College has no liability. The Allied Health Office makes every attempt to secure and assign students to clinical sites based on the student’s preferences regarding commuting and/or relocation. However, it is not always possible to secure a site within commuting distance therefore students who are open to relocating improve their chances of getting into the programYou are encouraged to view the clinical site information on Jackson College’s website or contact the Allied Health Office regarding clinical site questions.
- If there are approved accredited Sonography programs currently in your area it may be challenging for Jackson College to secure a clinical site in this area. A listing of accredited Sonography programs can be viewed on the CAAHEP website at www.caahep.org.
- If you have a hospital or ultrasound lab who is interested in hosting you as a student (pdf) for one of Jackson College’s Sonography Programs.
Can I apply for one of the DMS programs if I am currently taking pre-requisites necessary for admission the semester my application is due?
If you are enrolled in a course that is used for determining points on the admission process you can still apply, but if the courses are not completed by the application deadline you will not receive any points for that course. The Jackson College Sonography Programs will no longer accept midterm grades in the admission process. It is recommended that you have all of the courses used in the admission process to assess points completed before the application deadline to receive the most points. Please see the application for more information.
What are the benefits in completing a job shadow in the field of sonography?
Job shadowing gives the candidate an opportunity to see if the medical field is a good fit for them, and this is something that student wants to devote their time and education toward this field. Sometimes when a student volunteers or job shadows they see firsthand what the hospital environment is like before investing in the field of DMS.
How do I know if courses taken at other colleges will transfer to Jackson College to fulfill prerequisite requirements?
Your official college transcripts must be mailed directly from each of your prior universities to the Registrar’s office at: Jackson College 2111 Emmons Rd Jackson, MI 49201.
If I am from a state or city that Jackson College does not have a current clinical site, can I still apply to the program?
Yes, but we recommend that if you live within a 2 hour driving radius of another CAAHEP accredited program, you should apply to that program. Obtaining a clinical site for you to perform your clinical may be challenging, if not impossible, if you live close to another sonography school. To get a better idea of the likelihood of us getting a hospital in your area, please find accredited programs near you at www.caahep.org.
If you do not live near another ultrasound program and there is not a clinical site listed on Jackson College’s web page near where you live, and if you feel that there is a large enough hospital near you that could host you for a year to complete your clinical requirements, you will need to contact that facility and ask if they interested in hosting an ultrasound student.
Note: Due to the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), at this time we cannot offer online courses and/or clinical externships in the following states: California. If you can only attend a clinical externship (a requirement of all DMS programs) in the states listed above, and you are unable to relocate to a participating SARA state, you will be unable to complete a degree in any of our DMS program offerings. If you are willing to relocate to a SARA member state, please contact the Allied Health office at 517.768.7007.
If you have a hospital or ultrasound lab who is interested in hosting you as a student for one of Jackson College’s Sonography Programs you will need to:
- Ask the Supervisor or Manager of the ultrasound lab to complete these two forms and submit them back to the Allied Health Office:
The deadline for submission of these documents to the Allied Health Office:
- Cardiac Sonography – August 15
- General Sonography – January 31
- Vascular Sonography – January 31
- Once the Characteristics of Clinical Education Center and the Summary Curriculum Vitae Form are filled out and received by the Allied Health Office, they will be reviewed to determine if this facility meets the standards for the Jackson College’s accredited sonography program. If the standards are met then:
- Jackson College will contact the Supervisor or Manager of the ultrasound lab to learn if they are willing to commit to hosting a Jackson College student for a sonography program.
- This facility will be asked to enter into an Education Agreement with Jackson College. (This process is handled by the Allied Health Office and Jackson College’s Legal Affairs Office).
What makes the sonography programs at Jackson College different from others?
Jackson College is one of the longest CAAHEP accredited programs in the United States. Jackson College offers the DMS programs in a distance learning, online format while physics is taught both face to face and online to serve different students’ learning styles. JC offered the first CAAHEP accredited DMS program in the U.S.
What does “accredited program” mean to a DMS graduate?
Any student (other than a Bachelor degree or RT(R) who graduates from a “non accredited” DMS program must work or volunteer for an additional year before they are eligible to take the national registry boards (ARDMS). Also, some hospitals will only hire a sonography graduate from a CAAHEP accredited program.