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Sonography refers to using sound for medical imaging purpose. A sonographer is also called an ultrasound technician. Ultrasounds are not just for pregnant women to get a glimpse of their bundles of joy. They are also used to diagnose and monitor other conditions, especially when the radiation from an x-ray poses a threat to a patient. Diagnostic medical sonographers can specialize in several different concentrations, including Fetal Echocardiography, Abdomen, Breast, Neurosonology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Adult Echocardiography, Pediatric Echocardiography, Fetal Echocardiography, Vascular Technology, and more. There is no licensing requirement for the field of sonography in Tennessee. However, medical employers want certified diagnostic medical sonographers who have completed accredited training/degree programs.
There are five accredited educational sonography programs in Tennessee: Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences, Chattanooga State Community College, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Volunteer State Community College. Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences offers a four-year bachelor degree program, while the others provide 12-month to 15-month certificate programs. The certificate programs are only available to students who already have either an associate or bachelor degree in a healthcare field. Once an accredited training program is completed, the student is ready to pursue certification through ARDMS (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers).
To be certified as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) exam and a specialty content exam have to be passed. The specialty exams within this credential are AB (Abdomen), BR (Breast), NE (Neurosonology), FE (Fetal Echocardiography), and OB/GYN (Obstetrics and Gynecology). For the echocardiography specialties of Adult (AE), Pediatric (PE), or Fetal (FE), a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) can be pursued. Educational requirements must be met before taking the certification exams.
The job opportunities for diagnostic medical sonography in Tennessee are expected to grow by forty-four percent by 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. This is an enormous amount, considering the average across all occupations in the nation is only fourteen percent. This means that the opportunities to get a job, job stability, and job security should be very good for sonography graduates. $55,750 is the annual mean wage for a diagnostic medical sonographer in Tennessee. This is close to ten thousand less than the national average annual earnings of $65,800. However, cost of living in Tennessee is considerably less than it is in many higher paying areas of the United States. Sonography is an excellent starting career in the medical field, but it is also a great way for nurses and other medical professionals to add a credential that can greatly increase their earnings and opportunities.