If you have an interest in health care, and enjoy working with cutting-edge technology, a career as an ultrasound technician may be the perfect fit. Sometimes called sonographers, ultrasound technicians use sophisticated ultrasound machines to send high-frequency sound waves through an applicator, or wand, into patients' bodies. These sound waves create a picture of internal organs and other tissues, which other health care professionals use to diagnose, treat, and monitor the patient's condition.
With America's population living longer, plus the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, careers in the health care industry are predicted to continue growing -- including in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Ultrasound Technician Schools
Wisconsin sonography students have several options when it comes to pursuing a certificate or full degree in sonography. In addition, some schools offer the chance to specialize in a particular area of the field, such as cardiac or vascular sonography.
Here are five schools in Wisconsin with formal education programs in sonography:
- University of Wisconsin: Located in Milwaukee, this school offers a Bachelor's program in Diagnostic Medical Sonography with two clinical tracks. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
- Northeast Wisconsin Technical College: At NWTC in Green Bay, students can earn an Associate degree in Sonography upon completion of this CAAHEP-accredited program. Class of 2014 graduates boasted a 100 percent success rate in earning ARDMS credentials and finding employment.
- Blackhawk Technical College: Blackhawk Tech, located in Janesville, gives students the chance to pursue an Associate degree in either General Sonography or Vascular Sonography. CAAHEP-accredited coursework includes clinical training as well as two online courses.
- Chippewa Valley Technical College: CVTC offers a two-year Associate degree program in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. It is recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and accredited by CAAHEP.
- University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics: Based in Madison, this CAAHEP-accredited program offers students the chance to earn a Bachelor's of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Program specializations include Echocardiography/Vascular Sonography or General/Vascular Sonography.
Upon graduation, many students go on to take certification exams from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Successfully earning this certification can increase both employment possibilities and earning potential.
What to Expect from Wisconsin Sonography Programs
Students in a CAAHEP-accredited ultrasound technology program learn using the same type of equipment they'll find in a professional setting. Training includes how to perform an ultrasound on a variety of body parts. While exact curriculum will vary, students can expect to take courses in:
- Cardiovascular concepts
- Superficial structures
Other topics that may be covered, depending on the program level and specialization, include:
- Doppler physics
- High-risk obstetrics
- Technology applications for vascular and cardiac
- General education, such as English, Math, and History
Graduation from one of these programs helps prepare students for ARDMS or ARRT certification exams. Most programs also include an internship component, giving students the chance to apply what they've learned in an actual health care setting.
Wisconsin Ultrasound Technician Licensing and Certification
The state of Wisconsin has no licensure requirements for ultrasound technicians. To improve employability and earning potential, however, ARDMS certification is highly recommended. Possible credentials include:
- Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS)
- Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS)
- Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT)
- Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer (RMSKS)
Obtaining ARDMS certification requires submission of a Clinical Verification (CV) Form and application, as well as successful completion of both a Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) exam and a specialty examination. Specialty exams include:
- Abdomen (RDMS)
- Breast (RDMS)
- Fetal Echocardiography (RDMS and RDCS)
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (RDMS)
- Pediatric Sonography (RDMS)
- Adult Echocardiography (RDCS)
- Pediatric Echocardiography (RDCS)
- Vascular Technology (RVT)
- Musculoskeletal Sonography (RMSKS)
Examination provides the only path to earning ARDMS certification. Upon passing one exam, either the SPI or specialty, applicants have five years to complete and pass the second.
Resources for Ultrasound Technicians in Wisconsin
The ARDMS website provides ultrasound techs with the following resources:
In addition, the site offers educational articles and job information for both prospective students and professional ultrasound technicians.