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Choosing an Ultrasound School – What You Need to Know

This is the first in a 3-part series about choosing and applying to ultrasound school, by sonographer Adrienne Hardy

Read the rest –

A Google search of “Ultrasound Schools” can be a dangerous thing. Instantly, you are inundated with thousands of results that read similar to the “get thin fast diet plan”.  Ranging from credible to questionable, it can be hard to know what is a good choice to trust your money, time, and future career into. Here are a few thoughts to guide you in the right direction.

Is the Sonography Program Accredited?

When choosing a school, find one that is accredited. This is important to making sure you can sit for registries at the end and how soon after graduation you can be eligible to work. If your school is not accredited you may need to do clinical hours or intern before being eligible to sit for a registry.

Does it Offer In-Person Learning?

Most important for me (after accreditation) was to have a school with an “in person” component. Having in class labs, classroom learning and clinical was something I knew was essential to my success as a sonographer. I have known people that learned from an online university and were successful but their
transition into the workplace was bumpier.

Many programs are online only and you never touch a machine. This may work for some students and can surely get you to pass the knowledge part of the registries but I wanted a school that would be able to launch me instantly into a career. To feel like I knew what I was doing and how to operate my tool for the job. I’ve known the difficulties in starting a job and feeling lost, it’s no fun on the team or you. So I knew that I wanted to be the most marketable possible.

Does the Program Offer Hands-On Experience in an Ultrasound Clinic?

Knowing the art of scanning can’t come from an online video. You MUST scan and work with real patients. Clinical time is indispensable and valuable. I would argue that clinical time is what reinforces what you learn from the book, so not that one is more important than the other but success for the “hands-on” person depends on having scan time. So know yourself, how you learn, and be aware of what you’re signing up for.

This is harder said than done because in certain parts of the United States ultrasound schools are infrequent and it can be a good amount of distance to travel to get to a physical school. Online programs can be accessed from anywhere so I can see the convenience in signing up online.

Get some real-world advice from sonography professors from around the country.

Learn as Much as You Can About the Program Before You Apply

Read reviews!!! There are some people out there that try to take advantage of young students. I’ve heard horror stories from people going through years of a program, thousands of dollars, and all that effort into an education, only to get out and realize their degree wasn’t good for sitting for a registry or even being able to work. Try and get in touch with someone who went through that school and ask how the experience was. There are also ways you can talk on the phone with the school and ask the important question of what does getting the degree entitle you to after graduation. Use your researching powers to make sure you’re investing in a good place.

Contact a Potential Workplace

I would also encourage you to contact a hospital/outpatient clinic and ask what school they prefer to hire from or what schools their last few hires have been from. This will give you an idea of a school to look at. There are reputations of how well schools train students and when you have a certain school behind your name it will instantly be a good mark for you (of course you have to prove yourself from there with knowledge and scanning) but it will give your application some credibility. I can think of a few schools around Orlando that are considered proficient in the field and others that take the employer’s a little bit more consideration before hiring. This is just a sad reality that not all schools teach the same.

At the end of the day, where you get your education, in what format (online or in person) and from whom can make a huge difference. Make sure you carefully proceed and do as much research as possible. The right school is out there and you CAN get in.  Happy Scanning!