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Degree Overview: Associate of Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Majors Overview March 4, 2014

Those who are interested in helping with diagnosis of disease or illness with the use of sophisticated ultrasound imaging equipment may want to look into a career as a diagnostic medical sonographer. The first step into this career path is an Associate of Specialized Technology (A.S.T.) degree in diagnostic medical sonography.

A.S.T. Programs in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Students enrolled in Associate of Specialized Technology Degree Programs in Diagnostic Medical Sonography are prepared for entry-level occupations as diagnostic medical sonographers. They can expect to hone the skills necessary in performing a variety of exams, such as obstetrics, gynecology, Doppler and echocardiography. Apart from performing ultrasound scans, students can become adept at obtaining and updating patient records, preparing patients for transport and assisting physicians in ultrasound procedures.

Although schools do offer AST programs, they more commonly offer associate degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Coursework

Apart from coursework, students are also expected to attend lab studies and internships to obtain practical experience working with patients. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Physics
•Instrumentation
•Abdominal sonography
•Vascular techniques
•Imaging principles
•Cross-sectional anatomy
•Patient care in sonography
•Medical terminology

Job and Wage Outlook

An 18% job growth rate has been projected for these professionals during the decade from 2008 to 2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). Employment opportunities are expected to be favorable owing to the acceptance of sonography as an attractive alternative to radiologic procedures. In May 2012, diagnostic medical sonographers took home an average annual wage of $60,350 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Graduates can join the workforce immediately upon completion of the program or opt to continue their education by earning bachelor’s degrees in health administration or certificates or diplomas in sonography, which are typically devised to assist those with ongoing careers in the medical field. Graduates can also enhance their job opportunities by volunteering for professional certification. Licensure is not mandatory for sonographers; however, employers of these professionals prefer sonographers who are registered.

Completion of formal training and passage of a written certification exam with a certifying organization are required for certification. The American Registry offers the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) credential for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Specialty certifications are also offered by the ARDMS. Graduates can also seek certification in specific areas of sonography as awarded by agencies such as the Cardiovascular Credentialing International and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist. Certification can be maintained through continuing education.

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