When researching prospective schools to study ultrasound technology or sonography, you will probably be looking at several factors, like location, time frame and tuition fees. But besides considering convenience, you need to really think about quality.
To put it simply, an accredited ultrasound technician program has passed a “quality assurance test.” Furthermore completing an accredited program is looked upon favorably by employers and certification bodies.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is performed by an outside or unbiased agency that assures training and instruction meets quality standards.
With colleges, universities and other forms of post-secondary education, there are two types of accreditation: endorsement of a program or specialized area of study AND of the school or institution itself. For example, Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); and its Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ultrasound) program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits over 2,100 educational programs representing more than 20 health science careers, from medical assisting, recreational therapy and surgical technology to cardiovascular technology and diagnostic medical sonography.
The CAAHEP is the most widely recognized accreditation agency when it comes to diagnostic medical sonography or ultrasound tech education programs. While it currently accredits over 200 sonography programs, a handful of states do not have CAAHEP-accredited schools, and only a few accredited institutions offer online ultrasound programs. Thus, it is important to find out if ultrasound schools in your geographic area of choice are accredited, if not by the CAAHEP, by another accreditation organization.
For accrediting ultrasound programs, the CAAHEP seeks recommendation from the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS) and together they develop standards in cooperation with a number of other expert institutes and societies related to ultrasound disciplines and concentrations. The standards an ultrasound program must meet are extensive and include such areas as faculty qualifications, curriculum, student outcomes, clinical and didactic components and more.
Why Choose An Accredited Program?
By choosing an accredited ultrasound program, you can go in knowing you will receive a valuable education. “The standards by which these programs are measured have generally been developed by the professionals involved in each discipline and are intended to reflect what a person needs to know and be able to do to function successfully within that profession,” states the CAAHEP. “Accreditation in the health-related disciplines also serves a very important public interest. Along with certification and licensure, accreditation is a tool intended to help assure a well-prepared and qualified workforce providing health care services.”
Other Specific Benefits of Completing an Accredited Ultrasound Program:
- Employers will value candidates who have attended an accredited ultrasound program—they may even require it.
- The easiest way to meet the educational requirements to sit for a certification exam (i.e. offered through the ARDMS or CCI) is to complete a CAAHEP-accredited program. It is possible to sit for an exam if you have completed a non-accredited program; however it often comes with extra pre-requisites. For example, in the case of the ARDMS you may also have to complete an extra year of full time, clinical employment (if you have not completed an accredited program) which in turn can be hard to secure without certification in the first place.
You can find out about ultrasound technician programs in your area, as well as information on accreditation, career outlook and certification/licensure, by visiting our state directory.
You can also find out which ultrasound schools have CAAHEP-accredited diagnostic medical sonography and other health science programs by visiting: caahep.org.