What is Cardiac Sonography?
The Cardiac Sonography continuing education program (echocardiography) focuses on anatomy and pathology of the adult and pediatric hearts. This specialty trains the students to image standard views, monitor flow patterns, evaluate heart valves, learn the cardiac cycle, and determine pathology of the heart.
The Cardiovascular Sonographer is a skilled member of the diagnostic health care team. The sonographer must possess in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, physiology and pathology to apply to imaging and physiological procedures. As there are several specialties within the realm of ultrasound, a sonographer's specific specialty area(s) will be determined by personal interests, background, and training. The sonographer comes into close contact with patients, which necessitates excellent interpersonal skills.
Procedures are performed with real-time B-mode, M-mode and Doppler instrumentation, utilizing a transducer assembly against the anatomical part of interest and recording the images with ancillary devices, such as laser disks, video recorders, and color printers. Noninvasive peripheral vascular studies also utilize blood pressure cuffs and other devices for assessing hemodynamic properties. Most sonography procedures are in nature, although with continuing advances in technology, the addition of more invasive studies increases each year.
About the Program
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program offers two separate concentrations of study - Cardiac Sonography and General Sonography. The program is a full-time non-degree program that is 15 months in length and meets the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography's examination prerequisites.
All courses in the curriculum must be passed with a grade of "C" or higher in order to proceed to the next course in the sequence. Upon program completion, graduates may apply as candidates for certification through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Once the physics portion and any one of the other is passed the graduate will have the title of Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) or Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS). Graduates of the program may also qualify as candidates of sonography certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technology (ARRT).
Depending on the program from which the student graduates, the graduate will be eligible to sit for the Physics and Instrumentation exam, the Abdominal exam and the OB-GYN exam OR the Vascular Technology, Adult Echocardiography, Cardiac Physics, and Vascular Physics.
About the Career
Employment opportunities are varied. Cardiovascular Sonographers may be employed in hospitals, clinics, private offices, and industry. There is also a need for suitably qualified educators, researchers and administrators. The demand for registered sonographers/technologists continues to exceed the supply, and sonography has become a beneficial skill in the multi-modality health care environment.
The supply and demand ratios affect salaries, depending upon experience, job description and geographic location. In the southeastern region, entry-level cardiovascular sonographers earn approximately $50,000 annually.