University of Wisconsin–Madison

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (DMS)/Ultrasound Technologist

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound Technologists (DMS) use high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce images of organs, masses, fluid collections and vascular structures within the human body. This type of procedure is often referred to as a sonogram or ultrasound scan. Sonography is user-dependent and requires competent and highly skilled professionals to be part of the integral health care system.
  • Sonographers carefully position their patients to ensure that the shadowy images created by the ultrasound will bounce off of the tissues or organs that the physicians have specified.
  • These images are then recorded on a screen or film, and then studied by physicians to diagnose and treat illnesses and diseases.
  • Sonographers explain to the patients how the test is performed and that it is painless. They have extensive, direct patient contact, providing care to a variety of people from healthy to critically ill. Responsible for obtaining pertinent patient history, performing the sonographic examination, providing for the needs and comfort of the patient during the examination and recording anatomy and pathology or other data for interpretation by the physician to aid in diagnosis. May include invasive procedures.
  • Sonographers make sure that the images the machine makes can be read and understood clearly. Only then do they record the test results. They must have knowledge of normal structure and functional anatomy of the human body and use independent judgment in recognizing the need to perform procedures according to sonographic findings.
  • Specialty areas are: Abdomen, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Echocardiography, Vascular Technology, Neurosonology, and Ophthalmology. Specialization is available in Adult Echo, Pediatric Echo, Ob/Gyn Echo, and etc.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Like working with patients.
  • Should have strong reading, communication, and critical thinking skills.
  • They like to be a member of health care teams and the community.
  • Must be able to lift 50 pounds, push, pull, and bend and stoop routinely.

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
    • Helpful high school courses might also include anatomy & physiology, advanced algebra, geometry, chemistry, physics, computer technology, and medical terminology.
  • Education and Training
    • Students should select a program that follows minimum curriculum and clinical education standards recognized by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
    • Formal training programs lead to an Associate Degree (2-year), Bachelor’s Degree (4-year), or a Certificate.
    • Chippewa Valley Technical College offers an Associate Degree. A 2-year program including a seven-month internship during the 2nd year that will likely require relocating. Prerequisite courses required. Long waiting list.
    • UW-Milwaukee offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The Department of Biomedical Sciences offers Diagnostic Medical Sonography as a submajor. Students do 4 semesters of preclinical coursework and then have three locations to choose from for the 2 clinical years in either General Sonography or Echocardiography. The affiliation with UW Hospitals and Clinics (UWHC) started in 2007.
    • Certificate Programs usually last 18-19 months and do not accept students directly from high school. Admission prerequisites, comply with either: 1) Graduate from a two-year AMA recognized Allied Health Occupation Training Program like Radiologic Technology, Registered Nursing, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Respiratory Therapist, or Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistant; 2) Graduate with a Bachelor of Science with specific coursework and a 3.0 GPA; 3) Experience a minimum of 500 contact hours in direct patient care and 4) Enroll in an undergraduate program that has consortium agreement with Sonography School—Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) in Mequon; Carroll University; or the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
    • Concordia (CUW) offers a Bachelor of Science Degree spending 2 years on campus doing liberal arts and then 2 years at a hospital clinical site. There are multiple clinical sites at a variety of locations and cities. Placement of clinical site is VERY competitive and NOT guaranteed.
    • More and more employers are requiring being Registered by passing the examination and then being registered with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography www.ardms.org
    • Once one is registered 40 ARDMS accepted hours of continuing medical education (CME) is required every 3 years.

    Educational Institutions

    Blackhawk Technical College
    Carroll University
    Chippewa Valley Technical College
    Concordia University
    Marian University
    Mount Mary College
    Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
    University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

    Hospitals with Associated Educational Programs

    Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, Milwaukee
    University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison
    Wheaton Fransican Healthcare, Milwaukee

  • Method of Entry
    • After completing an accredited training program, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers may become certified by passing a certifying exam given by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and being “Registered” as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.
    • Sonographers may be certified in one or more specialties.
  • Professional Organizations

    American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
    14750 Sweitzer Lane, Suite 100
    Laurel, MD, 20707-5906
    301/498-4100 or 800/638-5352
    www.aium.org/

    American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
    1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 600
    Rockville, MD, 20852-1402
    301/738-8401 or 800/541-9754
    www.ardms.org

    American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
    1255 Northland Dr.
    St. Paul, MN, 55120-1155
    651/687-0048
    www.arrt.org

    Cardiovascular Credentialing International and National Board of Cardiovascular Testing
    1500 Sunday Dr., Suite 102
    Raleigh, NC, 27607
    919/861-4539 or 800/326-0268
    www.cci-online.org

    Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
    1361 Park St.
    Clearwater, FL, 33756
    727/210-2350
    www.caahep.org/

    Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
    6021 University Boulevard, Suite 500
    Ellicott City, MD, 21043
    443/973-3251
    www.jrcdms.org/

    Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography
    2745 Dallas Pkwy., Suite 350
    Plano, TX, 75093-8730
    214/473-8057 or 800/229-9506
    www.sdms.org/

     

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 1,090
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 60,700
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 76,700
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 26%
Expected Annual Openings: 2,750
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $78,612

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Generally work 40 hours a week.
  • Some work rotating shifts, weekend and holidays. Many take “on call” paid time and may have to come in at any time.
  • Can get promoted by becoming certified in more than one area of ultrasound testing.
  • With more work experience, technologist may be promoted to positions as supervisors or educational coordinators.
  • Some technologists earn a Bachelor’s Degree so they can teach.