I want a career in health care but I don't want to work with needles or body fluids. Will sonography be a good choice for me?
Sonographers must work with all types of patient conditions including patients with IVs, catheters, drainage tubes and ostomy bags. Fluid aspirations, contrast injections, biopsies, and tube placements may be performed during a sonographic exam. Sonographers must be able to provide direct patient care before, during and after the exam. Patients may experience nausea, vomiting, fainting, and even cardiac arrest while in the Sonography Department. The Sonographer is the primary care-giver when the patient is in the department.
What skills or backgrounds do most sonographer have?
There is no specific background that ensures an individual will be successful in the Sonography Program or as a Sonographer. While Sonography uses computer-based imaging technology, the patient care aspect of Sonography is equally important. Strong math, science, conceptualization, organization, concentration, and interpersonal skills are a must to learn and work as a sonographer.
How long does it take to learn Sonography?
Most accredited Sonography Programs in the United States are 18 months to two years in length depending on inclusion of prerequisite coursework in that time frame with graduates considered entry-level. The actual length of time for an individual to learn basic sonographic scanning skills is highly variable and quite dependent on the person's innate abilities. Learning the psychomotor skills involved with performing a sonogram is a process much like learning to play a musical instrument to learning to dance or play a sport. In addition, students must have a strong foundation in science and math as Sonography will utilize that knowledge for this specific patient care application.
Some students will pick up the scanning skills very quickly and others will need more time and practice to attain the skills required in each course. There is no way to discern whether or not an individual will be able to learn sonographic scanning skills; however those who have learned to play a musical instrument and/or a sport may find the hand-eye coordination aspect of sonography somewhat familiar.
Psychomotor skills are only one aspect in sonography education. The Sonography student and Sonographer must be able to apply the patient's clinical presentation with the anatomy and/or pathology visualized on the monitor, and must learn to utilize the ultrasound equipment appropriately and effectively. So a significant amount of Sonography education deals with normal anatomy and physiology, relational/sectional anatomy, sonography principles and instrumentation, pathophysiology, and patient care. The Sonography student must demonstrate appropriate progress through the required coursework to reach graduation and be able to seek employment after passing the appropriate ARDMS exams.
Will I be able to advance my education in Sonography after completing the AAS degree program?
Yes, baccalaureate degree programs that allow a student to apply credits from their previous education exist in the United States but not within the state of Texas. These programs are sometimes referred to as BS Completer programs. The majority of these programs are offered by colleges and universities that only accept credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities, such as ACC.
Can I learn a different specialty after I complete a DMS or DCS Sonography Program?
Yes, in fact many sonographers learn a new specialty and attain additional credentials after completing either a DMS or DCS program. One of the most common is the addition of credentials in Vascular Sonography (Technology). Some RDMS sonographers also learn Cardiac Sonography, but there is not a high demand for that type of sonographer in the Central Texas area. Graduates of the ACC DMS or DCS Programs can apply for admission to the other program or may choose to begin working on Vascular Sonography while in the AAS degree plan DMS or DCS program.
What is the outlook for jobs in Sonography in the Austin/Central Texas area?
Nationally there is a shortage of registered sonographers in all specialties and for many types of employment settings. Here in Austin and Central Texas there are times when several full-time and/or part-time job openings are available in a variety of employment settings. Sonographer job vacancies are typically very acute as departments may only employ three or four sonographers for all shifts as compared to tens or even hundreds of nurses employed in a facility. There are times when an employer must hire an experienced sonographer vs. a new graduate, entry-level sonographer.
The employment rate for ACC Sonography Programs graduates is approximately 98% since the beginning of the Programs in 1989. You will find more information on Sonography as a career at http://www.sdms.org/career.
ACC Sonography Programs General Information
Are the Sonography Programs accredited?
Yes, all ACC Sonography Programs are CAAHEP accredited: DMS since 1992, DCS since 2001, and ESC-VT since 2009. Re-accreditation is scheduled for 2013 for all three programs.
What does CAAHEP accreditation mean to applicants and students?
ACC Sonography Programs CAAHEP accreditation means that the Programs have submitted to a national, peer-review inspection of the processes and outcomes of the Programs. Applicants are assured that the ACC Sonography Programs provide a proven format for Sonographer education. Students are assured that the education they are receiving will prepare them for work as professional Sonographer and will prepare them for successful completion of the national registry exams conducted by the ARDMS. Only graduates of CAAHEP accredited programs meet ARDMS Prerequisite #2 for applying to sit for these national registry exams.
How much does it cost to attend an ACC Sonography Program?
A detailed cost report is available here: Program Costs
Are the Sonography faculty members experienced teachers?
The Program Director/Department Chair has 25 years of experience working with a variety of students in a teaching hospital environment and has been with ACC since 1994; other faculty members have a minimum of 5 yrs each as ACC instructors plus most have 15+ years of clinical experience in a variety of settings.
What is the total number of program contact hours?
For either AAS degree plan it is 2,224 hours; the ESC-VT adds an additional 576 contact hours. These hours include lecture/lab and clinical courses.
How much clinical experience is included in a Sonography program?
Approximately 1,056 supervised and documented hours for either the DMS or DCS Programs; the ESC-VT adds another 360 hours. A student completing both the AAS degree plan and the ESC-VT will have 1,416 clinical hours.
What types of resources does the program have?
Both the Eastview and Round Rock Campuses maintain medical libraries, including a large number of Sonography texts and references. The Sonography programs maintain a large selection of recent sonography references, textbooks, video tapes, computer software and other teaching aids. In the Sonography Labs students have use of state-of-the-art live ultrasound units, ultrasound training simulators, vascular physiologic testing units, and student use computers. Sonography students also have access to ACC computer labs at all campuses.
Will the Sonography Program prepare me to work performing pregnancy sonograms?
The DMS Program includes both Abdominal and OB/Gyn Sonography in the curriculum. DMS students receive didactic education and clinical rotations in obstetric sonography. Graduates of the DMS Program are able to apply to take the ARDMS registry exams for Sonography Principles and Instrumentation, Abdominal, and OB/Gyn.
Will I learn pediatric echocardiography during the DCS program?
The DCS Program does include an introduction to Pediatric Echocardiography; however the number of clinical facilities in the Austin and Central Texas area that perform Pediatric Echo studies is very small. Even experienced Adult Echocardiographers may need a year or more to become proficient in Pediatric Echo.
ACC Sonography Programs Curricula and Structure
Can I do this program part-time or in the evening only?
No, the Sonography Programs are designed as full-time courses of study which enables the student to finish as quickly as possible and earn the ability to apply to take the ARDMS exams upon successful completion of a program. Also, clinicals must be done during regular department work hours which are weekday, day-time hours only.
Can I request to be assigned only to clinical sites inside the city of Austin or on the bus lines?
Sonography students may be assigned to any of the clinical sites utilized by the program in the Central Texas region and may not request assignment to a particular site for any reason. Students are assigned by the Program to a variety of clinical sites (hospital and office practices) throughout the length of the program to provide the student with the well-rounded clinical education as required by programmatic accreditation (not all Sonography clinical sites perform the same types of exams and some are highly specialized).
Sites used by the Sonography Programs are located in Austin (several locations), San Marcos, Round Rock, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Killeen, Temple, Waco, and San Antonio (DCS program only). Sites within the city of Austin may not be served by the public transit system. In addition, whether or not a clinical site accepts a student placement is solely determined by the clinical site. Therefore, the Sonography programs cannot guarantee that a particular site will accept a student placement at any given point in the program.
How many students are accepted each year?
CAAHEP accredited programs must tie admission numbers/class sizes to the number of available, appropriate clinical sites that will accept students for clinical placements during the length of the program. Nearly 100% of the clinical affiliates/sites utilized by the ACC Sonography Programs accept only one student per semester.
- DMS: approximately 12 students per year
- DCS: approximately 12 students per year
- ESC-VT: approximately 12-16 students per year
ACC Sonography Programs Application Process
When is the application period? How often are classes admitted?
The Sonography application period is between December 1 each year and February 1 the next year (a 2-month period), therefore the deadline for applications is February 1 each year. If the deadline falls on a weekend, then the applications and documents are due by the next business day. The Sonography Programs accept one class per calendar year; the newly admitted class begins the program in the summer semester.
I heard that you have to be a nurse or an X-Ray Tech to do the Sonography Program. Is that true?
No, although several years ago that was a requirement. Now ACC offers the AAS Degree award for DMS and DCS, so only the published requirements (see Applicants on the first page of the Sonography website) need to be met to apply for admission. The ESC-VT is only available to students concurrently enrolled in either the DMS or DCS program and to recently graduated ACC DMS and DCS students.
How do I apply / what are the requirements?
Be sure to review all information posted in this website including the online Sonography Information Session presentation (see sections at left of screen).
Where can I get the Nurse Aid course?
ACC offers the CNA course through the Continuing Education Department - Health Professions Institute: http://www.austincc.edu/ce/hpi (select Course Listings).
Does the Sonography Program accept out-of-state students?
Yes, please see the main ACC website for information about admissions and tuition rates. You will find this information at http://www.austincc.edu/support/admissions.
Can I transfer in courses to fulfill the prerequisites?
Yes, ACC will make the final determination on transfer courses; only credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities are accepted by ACC.
The Sonography Department Chair MUST review all transfer courses/transcripts and complete a Degree Plan Worksheet prior to an individual submitting his/her application for admission to a Sonography Program.
If you are taking the co-requisite or prerequisite courses at another college to fulfill the requirements to apply for admission to a Sonography Program, please ensure that the descriptions of those courses match the ACC course descriptions. We recommend that you seek assistance from advisors and/or counselors at the college where you are planning to take those transfer courses.
Anatomy and Physiology I & II (must be 4 credit hours total with 3 hours of lecture & 3 hours of lab) taken at regionally accredited college or university will meet the requirements of BIOL 2304/2101 Human Anatomy and BIOL 2305/2102 Human Physiology. The applicant's Anatomy and Phyisiology I will be substituted for the Human Anatomy with the applicant's Anatomy and Physiology II substituted for the required Human Physiology. NOTE: the majority of the organs and body systems needed for Sonography are taught in Anatomy and Physiology II.
I have a BS/Master's Degree and/or a PhD. Is there an accelerated plan for me to enter a Sonography Program?
No, all applicants must complete all prerequisites as stated in the ACC College Catalog and on the Sonography Programs website. No exceptions or advance placement is made for those with advanced education regardless of the type of degree. See above for transfer courses to fulfill prerequisites and co requisites of the degree plan.
I am a physician with foreign credentials. When can I start your Sonography Program?
All applicants must complete all prerequisites as stated in the ACC College Catalog and on the Sonography Programs website. No exceptions or advance placement is made for any physician. You must apply for admission to ACC and check with the International Students Office at the Riverside Campus.
I heard there is a two-year waiting list for the Sonography Programs. Is this true?
No, the "waiting list" applicant format is not used (and has never been used) by the Sonography Programs. An applicant is ranked within the pool for that year. Therefore the applicant pool is "fresh" each year. If an applicant is not accepted, he/she is welcome to reapply for the next admission class but the previous year's ranking does not carry over to the next year.
Can I finish my college course prerequisites in the spring semester while my application is considered?
No, all prerequisite college courses must be completed by the end of the fall semester prior to the application deadline of February 1. The GPA from the prerequisite courses is required for the Applicant Ranking Worksheet.
All application documents must be delivered in person or by mail to the ACC Health Sciences Information Office by February 1 or the next business day if February 1 falls on a weekend.
Follow the instructions on the Application Checklist
Where should I have my letters of recommendation sent?
Letters of recommendation, employment awards, resumes, and/or notes from previously employers are not accepted.
When do I do the Criminal Background Check?
You do not go through the CBC process unless you are admitted to a Sonography Program; you will receive instructions on the CBC process in the conditional acceptance letter.
What is the minimum number of points I need on the Applicant Ranking Worksheet to get admitted to a Sonography Program?
Because the applicant pool each year is "fresh" (a waiting list format is not used for Sonography), every applicant pool is different and it is not possible for the Sonography Programs to predict the number of applicants or their points/rankings in future pools. Every person interested in our Sonography Programs receives the same information regarding the Application Process which includes the Applicant Ranking Worksheet (see Application Process on this website). Therefore, we expect that all applicants are working to earn as many points as possible on their Applicant Ranking Worksheets. Be sure to review all information regarding the Sonography Programs Application Process and contact the Health Sciences Admission and Information Office if you have additional questions.
I need to work at least part-time if I am admitted to a Sonography Program. Is this possible?
As stated in the Sonography Information Session, the amount of time a Sonography student must spend in study, practice and attending clinical is significant. The Sonography Programs cannot make accommodations for a student's work schedule. Most Sonography students find it difficult to impossible to maintain passing grades in their Sonography courses and work at the same time. You should plan ahead for your financial situation if you are admitted to a Sonography Program.
Are the graduates able to take the ARDMS exams?
Yes, ACC Sonography AAS degree plan graduates meet ARDMS Prerequisite #2 for taking the applicable exams; ACC is seeking accreditation for the ESC-VT and once that is accomplished, the graduates will also meet Prerequisite #2 for the ARDMS Vascular Exams. The ARDMS Sonography Principles and Instrumentation exam is taken by students in the 3rd semester of the curriculum.
Are Sonography students in class a lot during the week?
Sonography course schedules vary by semester but a Sonography student can expect to be in a lecture class two to three times a week with labs as assigned. Most Sonography didactic (lecture) courses have a lab that is part of the course but is not a scanning lab. Sonography semester schedules can be viewed from the main ACC webpage by clicking on Registering for Classes.
In addition to the above lecture/lab and scanning lab sessions, the Sonography student will attend clinical one to three days/week depending on the semester. Sonography students should plan to remain on campus as much as possible to utilize the Sonography lab for practice. The Sonography Labs may be made available at other times as determined by the Program and the semester.
Will I have to wear a uniform and dress a certain way when I am a Sonography student?
Yes, ACC Sonography students represent themselves, the Sonography Profession, and ACC at all times. Sonography students are required to meet a dress code which includes wearing the Program specified scrub top, pant, warm-up jacket and white shoes. Hair must be off the face and neck (cut short or pulled back), make-up must be lightly applied, beards must be trimmed, earrings (no other visible body piercings are allowed) must be small, unobtrusive posts or very small hoops, no visible tattoos are allowed, neck chain/necklace must be small, and fingernails must be trimmed with only light colored polish allowed. Absolutely no perfume, cologne or even personal care products with strong scents are allowed. No badges or insignias other than program required ID and name badges are allowed. Your appearance must comply with this dress code for all clinical and scanning lab courses/sessions.
When attending on-campus lecture courses, it is recommended that the Sonography student maintain a business casual dress style. Many of the ACC classrooms can become chilly or very warm during a class session; wearing long slacks, lightweight shirts or tops and a jacket is the most beneficial. A Sonography student may be dismissed from class if he/she is wearing inappropriate and/or distracting clothing while in a lecture class.
Is there a tardy or absence policy for the Sonography courses?
Lecture, lab and clinical schedules are provided to the student prior to the beginning of each semester. Due to the intense nature of sonography education, missed class or clinical hours may seriously affect a student's ability to complete the requirements of his/her course(s).
Each course syllabus contains information regarding attendance requirements and procedures. Excessive tardiness, absences, or early departures from lecture or clinical courses may result in the application of the Progressive Discipline Process or even withdrawal from the Program.