The most widely accepted sonographer education is provided by CAAHEP/JRC-DMS accredited programs (see more detail on this below).
General sonographers are registered and trained in abdominal and/or obstetric and gynecologic areas. Sonography education is further sub-divided into specialties such as cardiac, obstetrical, vascular, breast, abdomen and nervous system.
Education for sonographers generally includes sonography physics, cross sectional anatomy, physiology, pathology and communication skills. Sonography courses and prerequisites are recommended by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in their Standards and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Educational Programs in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Sonography prerequisites that are recommended to be completed by CAAHEP prior to the core curriculum include:
- algebra, statistics or higher math
- college level physics or radiographic physics
- communication skills
- human anatomy and physiology
In addition, CAAHEP recommends that the following also be completed either prior to or included in the core curriculum:
- patient care
- medical ethics and law
- medical terminology
The CAAHEP recommendation for the core curriculum and one learning concentration is 18 months. It includes a combination of classroom, laboratory and clinical instruction. Sonography classes for the following learning competencies include:
- utilizing oral and written communication
- provide basic patient care and comfort
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of human gross anatomy and sectional anatomy
- demonstrate knowledge of physiology, pathology and pathophysiology
- demonstrate knowledge of acoustic physics, Doppler ultrasound principles and ultrasound instrumentation
- demonstrate understanding of interaction between ultrasound and tissue and probability of biological effects in clinical examinations
Additional sonographer classes and competancies include:
- employing professional judgement and discretion
- understanding an ultrasound laboratory elements for quality assurance, policies, protocols and procedures
- understanding the need for continuing education
- recognizing importance of correct ergonomics during ultrasound scanning
- demonstrating ability to perform ultrasound examinations of abdomen, superficial structures,non-cardiac chest and pelvis
Much more detail is provided in the CAAHEP recommendations website at http://www.caahep.org/documents/file/For-Program-Directors/DMSStandards.pdf.
Practical sonography clinical training is also required. This usually takes place in a health care facility such as a hospital or doctors office. Students interact with other health-care team members and learn about sonographic imaging in cardiac, vascular and general fields.