Diagnostic medical sonography is a radiologic and imaging sciences specialty with eight subspecialties. Grand Valley State University offers six of these subspecialties. Diagnostic medical sonography is considered an entry-level profession in that students may enter GVSU without previous college experience and may aspire to complete the entire B.S. degree program in four years. Students are required to choose a concentration in either general sonography (abdominal and obstetrics-gynecology) or echocardiography and vascular sonography. Students choosing echocardiography and vascular sonography spend their third year in adult echocardiography and then are assigned to either pediatric echocardiography or vascular sonography for their fourth year of study.
Breast ultrasound is offered as an emphasis in the DMS major. GVSU students desiring registration in breast ultrasound may complete the courses in this emphasis as electives while pursuing their initial credential in diagnostic and medical sonography. In other situations, registered sonographers who find significant breast ultrasound to be part of their workload may return to GVSU to complete the coursework and qualify for the national examinations.
Sonographers practice a form of medical imaging that uses complex computerized high frequency sound wave and Doppler signal equipment to visualize subtle differences between healthy tissues and pathologic areas of the body, evaluate vascular flow information, and document pathologic and other conditions. The sonographer must acquire excellent knowledge of sectional anatomy, clinical medicine, pathology, and the use of sonographic instrumentation. Sonographers are responsible for patient care during procedures, which may include inpatient, outpatient, surgery, and mobile work. It is critical that sonographers have exceptional critical thinking and problem solving skills in order to develop a high level of interpersonal relationships with patients, sonographers, other staff, physicists, and physicians. Sonographers work collaboratively with radiologists, cardiologists, vascular surgeons, and other physicians to discuss differential diagnoses.
Students receive didactic, laboratory, and clinical experiences in both existing and emerging diagnostic medical sonography practices in the university’s state-of-the-art laboratories and through a clinical education system that requires students to attend full days of clinical practice under the supervision of registered sonographers at clinical education sites located as far as about two hours from GVSU (although most clinical assignments are within one hour from campus). Students must have transportation available to these sites.
Students working toward a B.S. degree in radiologic and imaging sciences with a major in diagnostic medical sonography from GVSU become eligible for the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) examinations specific to the concentrations completed. Eligibility for ARDMS examinations is achieved upon completion of 1680 contact hours (which occurs in November or December of the senior year before graduation the following April). Granting of the baccalaureate is not contingent upon passing ARDMS examinations.
Individuals who have been involved in a criminal proceeding or charged with or convicted of a crime may not be eligible for national certification by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Students are strongly advised to work with the ARDMS for pre-application review of eligibility for certification from their website at www.ardms.org (Credentials and Examinations, Application Process and Resources). The ARDMS may be contacted by phone at (301)738-8401 for more information.
The diagnostic medical sonography program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). The program adheres to JRC-DMS standards. Upon accreditation, students have the right to notify the JRCDMS if they believe the university is not adhering to these standards. The JRC-DMS is at 6021 University Boulevard, Suite 500, Elliott City, MD 21043. Phone (443)973-3251.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography General Emphasis
Abdominal and Obstetrics-Gynecology concentrations
The diagnostic medical sonography general emphasis prepares students for clinical practice in abdominal and obstetrics-gynecology. Vascular sonography is an elective option that is taken concurrently.
General (abdominal and obstetrics-gynecology) sonographers work collaboratively with radiologists or other specialized physicians to diagnose a diverse range of conditions using invasive and noninvasive procedures using complex computerized high frequency sound wave and Doppler signal equipment. The sonographer must acquire excellent knowledge of sectional anatomy, clinical medicine, pathology, and the use of sonographic instrumentation.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Echocardiography and Vascular Sonography Emphasis
Adult Echocardiography and either Pediatric Echocardiography or Vascular Sonography concentrations
The adult echocardiography and pediatric echocardiography/vascular sonography concentrations in the diagnostic and medical sonography general emphasis prepare students for clinical practice in adult echocardiography and either pediatric echocardiography or vascular sonography.
Adult and pediatric echocardiographers practice a form of medical imaging that uses complex computerized high frequency sound wave and Doppler signal equipment to visualize cardiovascular anatomy and function. They are responsible for delineating subtle differences between healthy and pathological cardiac and vascular structure and function, evaluate cardiac blood flow information, and document pathologic and other conditions. The echocardiographer must acquire excellent knowledge of cardiac and vascular anatomy, clinical medicine, pathology, and the use of sonographic instrumentation. Echocardiographers work collaboratively with cardiologists in medical center, hospital, or private practices to produce differential diagnoses. Vascular sonographers perform patient examinations, assessments, acquire and analyze data using ultrasound and related technologies, provide a summary of findings to aid in patient diagnosis and management, and use independent judgment and systematic problem solving to produce high quality diagnostic information and optimize the complete patient study. Vascular sonographers often work collaboratively with vascular surgeons but also work in radiology and cardiology departments in hospitals and private practices to discuss differential diagnoses.