June 30, 2021
Written by: Casey Green
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New to Ultrasound?
Are you interested in getting into the field of diagnostic ultrasound but don’t know where to start?
You are not alone, Gulfcoast Ultrasound Institute receives numerous calls weekly from individuals interested in becoming registered sonographers and don’t know where to begin. We wanted to provide a resource guide to help you begin your journey. As far as education goes, there are two different types of education providers: Long-term programs and Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs. Gulfcoast Ultrasound Institute is an ACCME Accredited CME provider designed to provide continuing medical education for sonographers, physicians, and other medical professionals who have a desire to learn a new ultrasound specialty, maintain CME credit requirements, and/or prepare to take their ultrasound registry examination(s). Long term programs are typically 1-2 years in length, and include classroom, scanning labs, and clinical rotations at area hospitals and/or other medical facilities. Long-term programs accept individuals who have no prior ultrasound experience and take them through a comprehensive program with the intention of having all students sit for their national registry exam upon graduation. Once Registered, you will need to maintain your certification through CME providers by way of Continuing medical education credits (30 credits every 3 years). CME providers can also assist in cross training into other specialties of ultrasound.
What to look for in an education provider:
Long Term Programs:
- CAAHEP accredited programs are what you will want to focus on since these programs have been vetted to provide the highest quality education, are viewed very highly among prospective employers, and meet eligibility pre-requisites for taking the national registry examination. Find an accredited program in your area: (drop down profession to “Diagnostic Medical Sonography”: Accredited Program
Continuing Medical Education (CME) Providers:
The highest quality education comes from companies whose education is Accredited through the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) a division of the American Medical Association through direct accreditation or joint sponsorship. “Directly Accreditation” means the education provider has undergone an extensive auditing process to demonstrate the effectiveness to improve competence, performance, and/or patient outcomes through the CME activities offered. Directly accredited providers are awarded the ability to directly provide AMA PRA Category 1 Credits to the end user. “Joint sponsored” means the company providing the education is going THROUGH a directly accredited CME provider and does not hold accreditation themselves. ACCME accreditation can be awarded as probation, 2 year, 4 year, or 6 year (with commendation). Gulfcoast Ultrasound Institute is directly Accredited education provider through the ACCME and holds the highest available award of 6 years with commendation. As such, our education resources are utilized by many long term programs as course materials and our courses have been highly respected since 1985.
Specialties of Ultrasound:
- Echocardiography (Cardiac)
- General (Abdomen)
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN)
- Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS): Emergency Medicine, Critical Care, Anesthesiology, Primary/Family Care
National Registry Examination Providers (agencies that provide your credentialing):
No education provider can “certify” anyone as a sonographer. Education providers prepare an individual to meet the credentialing pre-requisites and sit for a nationally proctored examination. If anyone tells you differently, that is not a nationally recognized organization, and you will end up in a difficult situation when applying for jobs. You will need to sit for your board examinations through one of two certifying agencies:
American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)
- Requires 2 examinations to initially get registered
- Offers Specialty exams in all areas of ultrasound
- Through the ARDMS everyone must sit for their Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) Exam (Ultrasound Physics). You can do this before or after your specialty examination however, you will not receive your credential until you pass both.
Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI):
- Single exam for credentialing
- Combines both physics and specialty exams into one exam so they are longer and more comprehensive
- Offers Credentialing in Cardiac and Vascular specialties
Steps to Becoming a Sonographer:
1) Find and Apply for a CAAHEP Accredited Program: https://www.caahep.org/Students/Find-a-Program.aspx
2) Usually your first semester / year will be dedicated to preparing you to sit for your Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI Exam). Students will schedule and sit for the exam.
3) Students will then begin training in the specialty of choice and start clinical rotations. During this time, you will be preparing to sit for your specialty registry examination.
- Gulfcoast Ultrasound Institute offers extensive Registry exam study materials, with a >98% Pass rate for all specialties (Textbooks, Mock Exams, Flashcards, Online Courses, and Packages). Included with purchases is access to an exclusive Facebook study support group and study guide.
4) Once registered, you will need to maintain your certification by obtaining CME Credits (30 every 3 years). For individuals looking to enhance their marketability and cross train into other specialties of ultrasound, consider attending a hands-on skills training program. Gulfcoast Ultrasound Institute specializes in hands-on programs for all specialty practices. With over 400 self-directed education products, live courses, blended-education programs , custom onsite programs and more, we offer cross training options for everyone.
Breakdown of Gulfcoast Ultrasound Institute Registry Review Preparation Materials:
- Available as print or digital
- Includes everything covered on the ARDMS/CCI specialty exam content outlines
- Includes text along with full audiobook narration
- Includes an online media center with video clips to help reinforce content
- Offer an optional 17-20 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits per book
PASS Mock Exams:
- Test your knowledge as if you were sitting for your exam from any internet ready device
- Lifetime online access that will never lock you out (some other providers limit the number of attempts)
- Study Mode: go through the entire bank of questions or focus on specific topics with no time limit. If an incorrect answer is given, the correct answer with references will be shown
- Exam Mode: Set the number of questions and time limit and the program will give you a breakdown of your results upon completion
- Offers an optional 15-17 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits
- Available as print or digital. Printed come with removable rings to shuffle questions - Q&A format
- Includes audiobook narration to test you knowledge on the go
- Offers an optional 12-15 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits
Registry Review Online Courses:
- 12 months unlimited access
- Interactive modular based online course format
- The same materials as if attending a live in person or virtual conference registry review program
- Optional AMA PRA Category 1 Credits
- PASS Guarantee*
Registry Review Live & Virtual Conferences:
- Take place live throughout the year
- Attend in person at Gulfcoast Ultrasound Institute in St. Petersburg, FL
- Attend Virtually as a live streamed event with the ability to interact with instructors
- Covers all current protocols and content outline updates
- Includes AMA PRA Category 1 Credits
- 5 days access to the online course version to review before your exam
- 25% off the online course version if additional review is needed
- PASS Guarantee*
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CME Credits Awarded
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