Using special imaging equipment, medical sonographers (also known as ultrasound technicians) create images and conduct tests to help in the diagnosis and assessment of medical conditions. Some ultrasound technicians are also on hand during surgery to assist physicians and surgeons. As imaging photography continues to improve, demand for qualified medical sonographers could rise nationwide, including in Iowa. This is due to more healthcare companies using ultrasounds as opposed to invasive, less cost-effective procedures.
Iowa Ultrasound Technician Schools
A formal education is needed to pursue a career as an ultrasound technician. There are a number of sonography schools in Iowa that offer degrees or postsecondary certificates in the field. These include:
- University of Iowa: At the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, students can choose from several different Radiation Sciences and Diagnostic Medical Sonography degree programs. They also offer online courses in a variety of related subjects, such as Abdominal Sonography, Vascular Anatomy, and Obstetrical and Gynecological Sonography.
- Mercy College of Health Sciences: Mercy College of Health Sciences offers a wide range of medical-based programs, including Diagnostic Medical Sonography. This is an associate degree program that lasts five semesters, and includes practicing in a skills lab, learning in a classroom, and getting hands-on clinical experiences in a number of healthcare settings. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
- Allen College: Located in Waterloo, Iowa, St Luke's College provides a range of courses that are dedicated to helping students become registered healthcare professionals. Their Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program is 21 months long and allows students to focus on diagnostic or general ultrasounds.
- Eastern Iowa Community Colleges: Consisting of Scott, Muscatine, and Clinton Community Colleges, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges enroll over 8,000 students each fall. A sonography program is offered, which culminates in an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. There are two tracks offered in this course: Cardiac Sonography or Medical Sonography.
What to Expect from Iowa Sonography Programs
In most sonography programs, students can expect instruction to be divided between classroom-based studies and hands-on training in a clinical environment. These programs typically cover all aspects of becoming an ultrasound technician, with some courses offering students the chance to specialize in a particular area of the field. Many graduates then go on to pursue certification in that specialization.
While specific courses may vary, here are some examples of topics commonly covered in a sonography degree program:
- Sonographic physics
- The principles of sonography
- Clinical procedures
- Specialist fields, e.g. breast sonography or abdominal sonography
- Sonographic pathology
- Sonographic anatomy
Iowa Ultrasound Technician Licensing and Certification
No specific licenses are needed in order to become a sonographer in Iowa. However, most employers prefer candidates who have a professional certification in the field. Many insurance providers and Medicare call for sonographers who are certified to carry out the relevant tests and procedures on their patients. These certifications can be achieved through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).
When pursuing these certifications, some students specialize in a particular area, e.g. breast sonography, while others like to remain general with their expertise. In a lot of the certification programs, students will be given the chance to choose a specialist area, with most obtaining at least one of these certificates. Others may go on to achieve several. A Basic Life Support certification that demonstrates a candidate is capable of CPR is also preferred by most employers when they're searching for job candidates.
Resources for Ultrasound Technicians in Iowa