Diagnostic medical ultrasound (or sonography) is a procedure that uses sound waves to create images of soft tissues in the body. These images are used to look for abnormalities, track a pregnancy, or diagnose conditions. Unlike X-rays, there is no radiation involved. Ultrasound is a commonly used tool because it's a cost-effective and safe way to diagnose potential problems. Because of the sophisticated equipment, sonographers take specialized courses along with general health and anatomy classes.
Colorado Ultrasound Technician Schools
Colorado's sonography programs allow students to specialize in different focus areas within the field. Many of the programs are shorter in length while still delivering quality training. The following three schools offer certificate or degree programs aimed at preparing future ultrasound technicians for entry-level employment:
- University of Colorado: This Denver-based sonography program, offered at the Anschutz Medical Campus, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The competitive, year-long program includes classroom work, lab training, and hands-on experience. Student graduating from the program receive a certificate that enables them to take certification exams from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography in OB-GYN sonography, abdominal imaging, and ultrasound physics.
- Pueblo Community College: Located in Pueblo, Colorado, this institution offers an associate degree in radiologic technology, which includes sonography courses. The five-semester program qualifies graduates to be registered radiologic technologists.
- Red Rocks Community College: This five-semester program, recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, awards an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography and helps prepare students for entry-level positions in the field. Located at the Arvada, Colorado, campus, optional certificate programs in ultrasound physics and vascular technology are available for those who qualify.
What to Expect from Colorado Sonography Programs
Sonography is a fast-paced and ever-changing field that requires both the caregiving skills practiced by physicians and nurses, along with the technical skills to operate and maintain specialized equipment. Prospective ultrasound technicians wishing to study and obtain work in Colorado have many options to choose from for both training and job location.
Depending on your interests, many schools allow you to focus your education on a certain area of the body by taking the corresponding classes. Most programs also have a clinical component where students learn from a professional ultrasound technician.
Students can expect to develop valuable skills in operating sonographic equipment, interpreting images, recognizing abnormal images, summarizing results for physicians, and communicating and working with patients. Courses might include:
- Sonography physics
- Medical terminology
- Communication skills
- Sonographic specialties
Colorado Ultrasound Technician Licensing and Certification
Employers often prioritize graduates from programs that are accredited by the CAAHEP. Newly graduated sonographers can also apply for certification with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or via Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). These organizations award certifications to professionals who passing the required exams. Students who specialize in a certain area of sonography can apply for an associated certificate, like in cardiac sonography. Most ultrasound technicians obtain at least one post-graduation certification, and many have multiple.
There are no specific licensing requirements for ultrasound technicians in Colorado, however the ARDMS requires those practicing to take one of its exams, either in general sonography (allowing practice in abdominal, breast, OB-GYN, and other areas) or in cardiac sonography, which relates specifically to the heart.
Resources for Colorado Ultrasound Technicians