Though I have spoken about school accreditation in previous posts, I would like to dedicate a full post on school accreditation as it pertains to ultrasound programs. Finding the right ultrasound program can be daunting and of course, you want to know that you are receiving the best education possible. So, how do you know if a school’s ultrasound program is accredited?
Many schools will advertise that they are fully accredited and can show you a whole bunch of certificates on the wall to prove it. However, the accreditation that a school needs to obtain so that they can keep their doors open and charge you tuition, may not be the same accreditation that will help you become a registered sonographer. Depending on the state, many schools can offer a sonography program without having an accredited sonography program. So, what does this mean? It means that once you have completed an ultrasound program from a school without an accredited program you cannot take your registry exams without at least one year of paid clinical ultrasound experience. It also means that potential employers have no way of knowing how worthwhile your education in sonography is. In other words, this can make finding a job much more difficult.
So what accreditation should your ultrasound program have? Your sonography program should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs, also known as CAAHEP. The easiest way to find out if the school you are interested in has an accredited sonography program is to go to CAAHEP’s website and do a search. When you search on CAAHEP’s website, select “Diagnostic Medical Sonography” then select your concentration and see all the schools that are accredited in your state, which can be helpful if you discover that the school you are interested in is not accredited.
The field of sonography is an evolving field. Thirty years ago there were no schools that offered sonography, a technician was trained on the job. Sonography has become so advanced and is used in so many different practices accross medicine that the demand for sonographers is on the rise. However, this also means that having a valuble education and being a “registered” sonographer is imperative. In the near future,sonographers will not only be required to be registered but have a Bachelor’s degree as well. Accreditation by CAAHEP ensures that the sonography program you are enrolled in is meeting the standard education requirements for your field. Schools that are accredited need to be up to date with their curriculum, teaching methods, technology, staffing, and clinical requirements you will need to be a well trained sonographer and sit for your registry exams upon graduating. Asking a school if their sonography program is accredited is the number one question that you should ask before anything else to ensure that you will receive the best education possible.