It is possible to train to be a diagnostic medical sonographer online. That is, it is possible to fulfill the classroom requirements in this way. There is, however, a clinical experience portion that is a important part of nearly all sonography and ultrasound training, and this, of course, cannot be fulfilled over the internet.
To get a sense of what these diagnostic medical sonography online schools are like, let’s take a look at a particular program as an example. Mountain State University is based in Beckley West Virginia and has campuses in a number of other states. They offer classroom as well as distance learning programs.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program at Mountain State
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) Program at Mountain State can be taken both for Associate of Science (AS) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees in DMS. A certain number of prerequisite courses are required before an individual is selected for the program. Once these have been fulfilled a student enters the “selection pool” out of which a new “DMS start group” is selected.
Upon being accepted into a start group the group of students is assigned a “clinical coordinator” who deals with the clinical portion of the program, placing students at various health facilities so that they can gain the necessary on the job experience. These coordinators handle the process of communicating with these health facilities so that a good clinical education situation can be arrived at.
Before getting set up with a clinical program, the student must complete a three day residency at the Beckley Mountain State campus. The student is briefed on the basics of sonographic scanning at this residency and gets preliminary practical experience in performing DMS scans.
One stipulation that Mountain State sets forth is that anyone who wishes to take their online DMS program must live more than 150 miles away from the main Beckley campus. Apparently they feel that anyone who lives closer should be able to arrange to attend the college in person. This seems a bit Spartan, but presumably they have their reasons.
The Mountain State program is perhaps not so typical of diagnostic medical sonography online schools. Other online programs may not the requirements such as the residency and so on. But one thing that is typical, in fact omnipresent, is that these programs have to either interface in some way with clinical experience at hospitals or other medical facilities, or that a student must complete these work requirements in some way on their own either before or after taking the online program. It is not possible to completely train to be a diagnostic medical sonographer online. This is a hands on technical field that requires practice using ultrasound equipment. Online instruction can only be a substitute for what would otherwise be the classroom portions of training.
It is generally a good idea to use a degree of caution when considering online programs in general. There is the possibility that online programs are less than reputable and some prove to be outright scams. It is a good idea to run any diagnostic medical sonography online schools that you are considering through a series of routine checks such as reading reviews of them on unbiased user review sites, seeing what accreditations they have (if any), talking over the phone or in person with teachers and administrators, and even seeing whether there are complaints about the schools with the Better Business Bureau. Don’t just blindly sign up for an online program because it looks good and hassle free. You need to put as much or more thought into which of these schools to select as you would with an ordinary “bricks and mortar” college or university. This school will be preparing you for a career that you will probably be involved in for an extended period, so finding a good school is paramount.