Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Diagnostic medical sonographers work in clinics and hospitals performing ultrasounds on patients. Though most people associate ultrasounds with babies and prenatal care, ultrasounds can also be used to show pain, swelling, and circulation issues in several body parts, including the heart, kidneys, bladder, and eyes. As a sonographer, you will be interacting with patients and are a key part of the medical team. There are many possible paths to becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer, according to the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, but the most common ways are completing either a bachelor's degree in sonography, completing a bachelor's degree in any field plus one year of clinical ultrasound/vascular experience, or completing a two-year patient care-focused allied health program plus one year of clinical ultrasound experience in addition to the year required for degree completion.

[A] few states are trying to pass laws that would call for state licensing and more regulation.

Keith GentryMembership Marketing and Services Coordinator for the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Getting DMS Registration

In order to become a registered diagnostic medical sonographer, you first will need to complete the educational and experience prerequisites and paperwork, then apply to take the Sonography Principles and Information Examination or an ARMDS specialty exam, which certifies you in various sonography fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist offers credentials in breast and vascular sonography, and the Cardiovascular Credentialing International provides credentials to cardiac sonographers.

There is no state certification or licensure for diagnostic medical sonographers, but Keith Gentry, membership marketing and services coordinator for the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, said that may change soon. "Right now, it's a voluntary registry," he said, "but a few states are trying to pass laws that would call for state licensing and more regulation." Through the ARDMS, you will be registered for a three-year period.

Maintaining DMS Registration

Those who wish to register through the ARMDS national organization must pass tough standards to join, then participate in continuing education. Continuing Medical Education, or CME, through the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, is accepted by the ARMDS through seminars and other programs. To maintain your three-year credentials, you must accrue 30 hours of CME in three years.

Continuing education is essential to staying on top of the technological changes and medical advances in the profession. Such changes are often featured in the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, which is published by the SDMS. Gentry said the journal publishes up-to-date information through case studies, research, and literature reviews, and can give people an idea of what their CME should focus on. The best ways to go about completing CME include college courses and organization-based lectures. Organizations such as the SDMS and ARDMS frequently offer seminars to members to help them achieve their CME requirements.

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