Sanford-Brown College Atlanta prepares students to become diagnostic medical sonographers
June 28, 2010
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If you’re looking for a career that offers stability and opportunities to grow — health care is your ticket. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations are in health care.
Many jobs in allied health fields require two or less years of education and training. Sanford-Brown College Atlanta prepares students to become diagnostic medical sonographers (an 18-month certificate program) or cardiovascular sonographers (two-year associate degree).
Sonography is a diagnostic medical procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce dynamic visual images of organs, tissues or blood flow inside the body. Sonographers learn the body’s systems and how to operate the technical equipment to examine body parts — such as the abdomen, breast, female reproductive system, heart, prostate gland or blood vessels — to help doctors detect and treat diseases.
Because it’s noninvasive and radiation-free, sonography offers many benefits to patients and physicians, and has grown significantly in the past 20 years, according to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
“I was always interested in women’s health issues and became a sonographer after volunteering at a hospital and seeing how it was used in gynecology and obstetrics,” said Danielle Millman, president of Sanford-Brown College Atlanta. “I was never bored and [I] learned something new every day. You become the eyes and ears of the physicians you work with and an important member of the team.”
Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, Sanford-Brown’s sonography programs combine classroom learning, laboratory practice and 720 hours of clinical internships in different clinical settings.
Students learn anatomy and physiology, the pathophysiology (changes of normal functions) of organs, the protocols and techniques for scanning organ systems, and how to report accurate data and technical findings to physicians.
“It takes someone who is technically competent and very detail-oriented,” Millman said. “You need to be the kind of person who takes pride in your work and will hold yourself personally accountable. You also need to have compassion for your patients and a good bedside manner, since you’ll probably be alone with them during the testing.”
The programs are rigorous, but Sanford-Brown students have the advantage of working with state-of-the-art equipment.
“We recently acquired a virtual simulator that can be used with any computer,” said Theresa Caldwell, program director. “Sonographers have to be very skilled with their hands. Students can log in to our site and practice their skills using a transducer on a simulated patient from home.
“They also have a lot of open lab time at school. All that practical experience is great training.”
Sanford-Brown accepts students into its sonography programs each spring and fall. Applicants are required to have taken some college math and science courses and must also pass two entrance exams.
“Our programs prepare students to take national exams to earn industry certifications. We strongly encourage our students to earn these credentials, because it will give them more job opportunities and better salaries if they are registered,” Millman said.
Graduates find work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, surgery centers and clinics. “Atlanta is a great market, because of all its hospitals and doctors’ offices,” she added.
The average salary for sonographers is $32 per hour or $66,678 annually, according to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Tuition for both sonography programs at Sanford-Brown, which includes books, scrubs, lab materials and access to the virtual trainer, is $36,295. Federal financial aid is available for eligible students.
For information, call 770-576-4498 or go to www.sanfordbrown.edu/atlanta.