A diagnostic medical sonography program is designed to prepare students for careers in medical sonography, also known as medical ultrasound. The medical ultrasound allows physicians to create, through radiation-free imaging, a three dimensional picture of a patient's internal organs for examination and diagnosis, and is an essential part of the medical practice. To choose the best diagnostic medical sonography program, prospective students should consider the experience of the staff, how many graduates of the program go on to find jobs in the field, and the student's own educational needs.
The proper choice of a diagnostic medical sonography program relies heavily on the student's particular adult education needs. Certification is required for employment in many countries, and can take one to four years to achieve, depending on the student's desired career path. It should be obtained through an educational facility that is nearby and able to provide a high quality education while still making allowances for the fact that many of their students have other responsibilities beyond those related to school.
One of the most important factor when distinguishing between diagnostic medical sonography programs is the experience of the staff. In order for a professor to truly prepare his students for the role they will be filling in the medical community after graduation, it is important that he be familiar with, and experienced in, the field he is teaching. Most medical ultrasound programs do not hire professors whose experience is strictly academic. Many will have worked in the field for years before becoming either adjunct professors or taking on teaching full time.
The percentage of students who pass their professional certification exams and the hiring rate of a particular school are two excellent ways to judge the academic strength of a diagnostic ultrasound program. Schools with high percentages in both categories are likely to provide not only an extensive and thorough education, but also a supportive staff of professors and advisors that work extensively with their students. The support of the staff is often a determining factor in a student's success.
A strong diagnostic medical sonography program should provide its students with plenty of hands-on and clinical experience throughout the course of their education. Student clinical rotations often fill quickly, and some programs leave their students waiting for an extended period of time prior to admission. This leaves graduates at a disadvantage when entering the profession, as their education may be dated. Ideally, the program would have a hospital affiliation, guaranteeing its students placement when the time comes for their clinical trials.