This article talks about master’s degree programs in cardiac sonography and their education requirements, coursework, career options, and job and wage outlook.
Master Degree Programs in Cardiac Sonography
In cardiac sonography, also called echocardiography, ultrasound imaging helps observe the heart during the diagnosis and monitoring of patients. Few schools, if any, offer master’s degrees in sonography; programs in the field may be available in concentrations such as vascular sonography. Schools more commonly offer associate and bachelor’s degree programs in cardiac sonography; these are usually echocardiography or cardiac technology programs. Enrollees in the majority of educational sonography programs are prepared for registry via the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Coursework incorporates subject areas such as health imaging technology, human anatomy, and cardiac diagnostic techniques, supplemented by clinical experiences and lab sessions.
Associate Programs in Cardiac Sonography
In cardiac sonography, ultrasound technology is used in the diagnosis of heart disease. Medical professionals in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices can use diagnostic sonography as a non-invasive form of medical diagnosis. With an associate degree in cardiac sonography, a program graduate can perform an echocardiogram using produced pictures of the heart and the major blood vessels. Heart malfunctions may be diagnosed using the images displayed on the sonography machine, also referred to as an ultrasound.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a high school diploma and to demonstrate a grasp of the duties and skills necessary for working in the field. In some programs, prospective students are expected to submit a letter of intent and references, attend a personal interview and complete a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course before they can begin core coursework. In some programs, applicants are required to complete prerequisite coursework in subject areas such as algebra, biology, anatomy, and physics.
Full-time enrollees in an associate degree in cardiac technology program are usually required to complete courses worth about 60-120 credits. Coursework features a combination of classroom instruction and practical application in off-site clinical settings. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:
•Echocardiography and diagnosis
•Interpretation of sonographic images
•Health imaging and patient care
•Clinical applications of sonography
•Physics in sonographic imaging
Sonographers can seek careers in a variety of medical settings. Those with a sales background may also seek jobs in sales representative positions selling sonographic machinery. Program graduates may choose from other possible job positions such as:
Bachelor’s Programs in Sonography
Training in breast, abdominal, heart, fetal, pediatric, brain, and medical vascular diagnosis is typically in a bachelor’s degree program in sonography. Dual concentrations in specialties such as cardiac, general, and vascular sonography may be available. Students may need four years to complete coursework relating to the use of sonography equipment, body systems, communications, management, social sciences and cardiovascular studies.
Students are prepared for professional credential exams to become Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographers or Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers via ARDMS.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have completed prior coursework in subjects such as human physiology, chemistry, medical vocabulary, college math, and record keeping. Requirements also include submitting statements of purpose, endorsement letters, and evidence of CPR certifications, along with attending personal interviews.
Invasive and non-invasive diagnostic procedures relating to vascular sciences and cardiology in children and adults are taught through core coursework that may cover topic areas such as:
•Cardiac assessment techniques
•Anatomy in specific body regions
•Cardiovascular testing physics
Job and Wage Outlook
Sonographers are expected to see a faster-than-average 17% job growth, over the 2016-2026 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The best job opportunities are available to sonographers with concentrations in multiple specialties (BLS).
Master’s Programs in Vascular Technology
Vascular sonography incorporates the specialized use of ultrasound imagery in helping to detect and assess vascular conditions in veins and arteries. Vascular sonographers are also vascular technologists. Program coursework features a combination of online content, on-campus instruction, and ultrasound lab experiences. Enrollees are also required to participate in a year-long externship in a clinical vascular research setting. Students take just over two years to complete the whole program.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, along with submitting a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation and attending a personal interview. In the majority of instances, applicants are required to have completed prerequisite courses such as college-level anatomy, human physiology, and physics. Enrollees would also need to possess computer skills.
Coursework includes procedural application, research, surveys, diagnostic methods, and case studies. Students are trained to seek certification as a Registered Vascular Technologist via exams given by ARMDS. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:
•Medical writing composition
•Anatomy of veins
•Abdominal vascular testing
•Cranial vascular diagnostics
Program graduates can seek management roles in the vascular sonography field. They may also seek teaching careers in 2-year educational institutions.
Job and Wage Outlook
Non-invasive vascular diagnostics are expected to supplant expensive, invasive medical tests, thereby driving job opportunities for vascular technologists (BLS).