The question that this title poses is one that have occurred to you as you have considered which diagnostic medical sonography school to attend. Accreditation by some kind of national or regional accreditation organization would seem to be a good recommendation for a school. But how important is it actually that you attend an accredited school if you are going for a degree or certificate in diagnostic medical sonography? There are a few common misconceptions here that should be cleared up.
One of the primary national accrediting bodies that deals with ultrasound or sonography is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This organization, according to the Unites States Bureau of Labor Statistics has to date accredited more than 150 diagnostic medical sonography training programs nationwide. CAAHEP accredited programs tend to be well regarded.
Accreditation and Certification
At the outset it should be stated that one of the main issues with accreditation concerns certification. A national organization called the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers certification exams which result in the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) professional designation. This can help a sonographer to get a job and in general is a good step to take professionally.
There are certain eligibility requirements that must be met in order to qualify for the exams offered by this organization. One of these is that student needs to complete an educational program. There are a number of different stipulations and eligibility requirement pathways for becoming eligible for an exam. But the upshot in a general sense is that if a program is nationally accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the appropriate federal government agencies such as the Council for Higher Education and Accreditation (CHEA), the United States Department of Education (USDOE) or the Canadian Medical Association, an individual does not need any clinical field experience to qualify to take the RDMS exam. CAAHEP is not the only such accrediting organization, but it is one of the most well known ones. If a student completes a program that is not accredited, clinical work of 1 year is required in order form someone to qualify to take the exam.
So this, in the strictest sense, is the difference between an accredited and non-accredited diagnostic medical sonography school. Attending an accredited school makes getting certified quicker and easier.
Program Thoroughness and Reputation
Another less formal answer to the question of the difference between an accredited and non-accredited diagnostic medical sonography schools is that accredited school may have more thorough or reputable programs. This is not by any means always the case. But looking for accredited schools can be at least a guideline for selecting schools that offer a good education.
Finding Accredited Schools
The CAAHEP allows you to search for accredited programs in diagnostic medical sonography. Click the “find an accredited program” tab at the top of the page and it will take you to this search utility. Once there you select the type of program (in this case diagnostic medical sonography) you can search CAAHEP accredited programs by state.