You may see many online DMS programs advertising on the internet. The key thing to keep in mind when examining these online courses is that while it is possible to take didactic courses (lectures) online, it is impossible to earn your DMS certificate completely online and if this is what the online program is describing, then move on with your search.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography is learned through class instruction, hands-on training labs and clinical externships. There is an enormous amount of time spent with the ultrasound machines themselves, learning how the machine works, understanding the ultrasound physics and how to create an ideal image, where to place the handheld transducer on the human body, learning to see normal anatomy through ultrasound, which is like learning a new language, only you are using your vision. These are just a few of the basic skills needed.
Ultrasound is operator dependent, which means that in order for an accurate diagnosis to be made, the Sonographer must be highly skilled and knowledgeable about anatomy, physiology, disease processes and the appearance of such on ultrasound. This hands-on process of learning begins with the labs at the ultrasound programs on campus, continues with the clinical externships offered by the program, and beyond into your sonography career.
How many students get into a sticky situation
Many unaccredited online programs might provide the didactic courses online but you must come to their campus for labs and you will be responsible in finding an imaging center or hospital in your area to complete your externship (the program might say they will assist in finding an externship, but it’s not guaranteed). This is where many students get into a sticky situation- here they’ve done all their didactic work, but there isn’t any imaging center in their area that will accept a single ultrasound technologist extern from an unknown program. There is too much liability and not enough advantage on their part. In fact, there are fewer and fewer workplaces that will even hire a graduate without ARDMS credentials!
Lastly, don’t forget that for any unaccredited DMS program to work for you, online or not, you must already have an AS degree in a hands-on health related field or a BS degree in any field so you would be eligible to sit for the ARDMS exams once you’ve graduated.
That all being said, there actually are a handful of online CAAHEP accredited ultrasound programs. There is much competition to get into these rare programs. While you might be able to complete some of the prerequisites and the program’s didactic courses online, the program will require you to either relocate or travel to their campus for their hands-on labs and clinical hours. Some programs may have a few clinical locations in other areas of the state. Once graduated, you can sit for the ARDMS exams. You would have to contact the individual program for details about accepted prerequisites and admission requirements. You can begin your search at CAAHEP’s website… www.caahep.org and on this site to find accredited ultrasound technician schools.