Frequently Asked Questions
- What is ultrasound?
- What does a sonographer do?
- What job opportunities are available to sonographers?
- What specialty areas does the program offer?
- Which specialty should I choose?
- What is the typical salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer?
- Is Tri-C’s program accredited?
- Where is the Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program located?
- How do I apply for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program?
- When are applications for the program accepted?
- When do I find out if I'm accepted?
- How many students do you accept?
- What courses are required to be completed prior to admission to the program?
- When are the admission courses offered?
- Can I take the admission courses closer to my home/work?
- How long does the program take to complete?
- Am I able to work while in the program?
- How soon can I begin the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program?
- Are there other program requirements?
- What other courses should I take while waiting for my Fall program start date?
- What clinical sites are available?
- Are there any credentialing boards for diagnostic medical sonography?
- Does the program have a grading scale?
- Are there technical standards for the DMS program?
- How much does the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program cost?
- Is financial aid/assistance available?
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create a diagnostic image of soft tissue structures and vessels within the body. These images are displayed on a monitor and stored digitally for interpretation by a physician. The Sonographer is responsible for creating images through direct contact scanning and to provide the interpreting physician with a summary of their technical findings.
What does a sonographer do?
A Sonographer is a qualified health care professional that uses sound waves in the ultrasound frequency range to produce images of the liver, kidneys, heart, blood vessels, and the fetus in utero for the diagnosis of disease. This usage of sound waves to identify normal and abnormal anatomy assists the physician in the diagnosis and treatment of disease or in assessing the patient’s condition and progress. The Sonographer combines technical expertise with in-depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathology and physics to create diagnostic cross-sectional images using ultrasound energy.
Responsibilities of the Sonographer include acquiring, evaluating, and correlating ultrasound images and related patient clinical data to be used by physicians to render a medical diagnosis. The Sonographer is responsible for maintaining accurate records, reviewing and recording pertinent clinical patient history and previous test results, performing the sonographic examinations and providing the interpreting physician with a summary of their technical findings. In carrying out these responsibilities, the Sonographer must apply the acquired knowledge of physics, anatomy, physiology, pathology, patient care, ethics, assessment, and other related principles that are included in the program curriculum.
What job opportunities are available to sonographers?
Employment opportunities are available nation-wide in both urban and rural areas. Growth is projected to continue well into the future. Sonographers find employment opportunities in hospitals, clinics, private practice physician offices, public health facilities, and diagnostic imaging centers. Additional career advancement opportunities for sonographers are in education, administration, research, and as education/application specialists, sales representatives, and technical advisors in commercial companies.
What specialty areas does the program offer?
There are several areas of specialization in the field of sonography, and individuals must choose one when applying to the program. Tri-C is CAAHEP-accredited for the following specialty options:
Abdominal Extended and Obstetrics/Gynecology:
Sonographic evaluation of the organs of the abdominal cavity (i.e., liver, spleen, kidney, pancreas, aorta), blood vessels and superficial structures as well as the evaluation of the female reproductive system and pelvic cavity (i.e., uterus, ovaries, pregnancy).
Adult Cardiac Sonography: Sonographic evaluation of the adult anatomy and blood flow of the heart, its valves and related blood vessels
Vascular Technology: Sonographic evaluation of the blood flow of peripheral, cerebral and abdominal blood vessels (i.e., carotid arteries, deep leg veins, renal arteries)
Which specialty should I choose?
This is really a matter of personal choice and interest. Some students pursue a specialty because of their interest in that organ/body system, while others select a field because a friend or family member has had health issues with that body system. Applicants unsure of which specialty option to pursue are encouraged to contact the ultrasound lab, the echo lab and the vascular lab at a hospital and arrange to shadow a sonographer in each of the specialties to gain insight as to how each specialty differs. Remember to bring your shadowing form with you.
*The shadowing requirement is waived until further notice due to the pandemic.
Applicants should research employment opportunities and trends. The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics is an excellent resource, as are human resources departments at area hospitals.
What is the typical salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer?
The typical starting range for a new sonography graduate in the Greater Akron/Cleveland area ranges from $26 to $32 per hour. Often, sonographers take call and work overtime hours; annual earnings reflect this as an increase to their income.
Is Tri-C’s program accredited?
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs at Tri-C are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS) for all options. Current accreditation contact information is available at www.tri-c.edu/sonography
Where is the Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program located?
The DMS program is housed at the Western Campus in Parma. Because of the expense of the scanning lab equipment and space requirements, all DMS courses are offered only at this campus.
How do I apply for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program?
Apply for Admission to Cuyahoga Community College. (If you are already a Tri-C student, proceed directly to step 2)Admission to Tri-C does not automatically admit a student to selective admission programs such as the DMS program.
Complete all program admission courses and shadowing form for admission into the DMS program. See below for a listing of courses required.*The shadowing requirement is waived until further notice due to the pandemic.
Complete the online application for the DMS program Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program at Tri-C after you have successfully completed all admission courses. The online system will send you an email indicating your progress, missing requirements and an acceptance letter as you continue to progress through the coursework. Make sure to check the program status page for updates to admission timelines.
After application is received and processed you will be notified to complete the background check and health requirements. Do not initiate the background check or complete health requirements until instructed to do so.
When are applications for the program accepted?
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program starts each Fall semester. Completed applications are accepted all year long for admission to the program. Applicants with incomplete application files will need to complete the missing required information before being considered for acceptance. The DMS Program Director issues a letter indicating the class year for which the applicant is provisionally accepted into the DMS Program after reviewing the complete application file. Final acceptance into the Program is contingent upon completing the required Program forms, along with an acceptable background check and finger print report.
When do I find out if I'm accepted?
Only applicants with complete application files (proof of all graded coursework and required GPAs) will receive a letter of tentative acceptance. This email letter is sent out approximately two weeks after final course grades are entered. The email will contain information regarding further actions and any necessary program correspondence.
How many students do you accept?
A total of 32-40 students are accepted into the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program for each Fall Semester. This limited enrollment capacity of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, like other Health Career programs at Cuyahoga Community College, means that not all who apply can be accepted immediately. The number of students accepted into the program is determined by the availability of space in the hospital/clinical affiliates of the program. Candidates meeting all admission course and admission requirements will be accepted as having a completed application file. Applications are conditionally accepted on a first completed file/first-accepted basis. When the most recent program offering is full, remaining complete application files will be placed on a list for the next program offering. These applicants will be considered as alternates for vacancies that may occur in the earlier program offering.
What courses are required to be completed prior to admission to the program?
The following courses must be completed before being accepted to the DMS program:
ENG-1010 College Composition I
MATH-1240 Contemporary Mathematics or higher
BIO-2331 Anatomy and Physiology I
Bio-2341 Anatomy and Physiology II
DMS-1071 Concepts of Physics in Diagnostic Sonography
DMS-1303 Introduction to Sonography
DMS-1320 Introduction to Sonographic Scanning
DMS-1351 Patient Care Skills
When scheduling or while in the admission courses, keep the following in mind:
- Plan when you will take your admission courses, taking into consideration that some of the courses have prerequisite or co-requisite requirements or may be offered only once a year. DMS 1320, Introduction to Scanning is only offered in Spring semester due to lab availability.
- Biology and math requirements should be scheduled early in your course plan; delaying them delays your application from being complete.
- Health Career programs do not accept Pass/No Pass grades for admission courses taken at Tri-C. A letter grade of "C" or better must be achieved.
- Only a maximum of two repeats to improve from a previous attempt(s) are permitted. Students may repeat one admission course twice OR two admission courses once to improve the admission GPA requirement. A "W" is counted as a repeat.
- Admission GPAs calculated using only the Tri-C specific admission course credit hours listed.
Minimum 3.0 GPA for DMS 1303, DMS 1320 and DMS 1071 (total 5 credits).
Minimum 3.0 GPA for BIO 2331 and BIO 2341 (total 8 credits).
- If you transferred in college courses, such as English, math, physics, psychology, or anatomy and physiology, you will need an override to register for the some of the admission courses. Contact a counselor or program director to request the override; provide them your Tri-C student ID number and the course section number (CRN).
- There are no time limits for required courses; due to their importance, the course content is built upon (not reviewed) in the remaining Program courses.
- Minimum Tri-C cumulative GPA of 2.4 must be maintained during the entire length of the Program.
- ALL applicants must apply for the DMS Program through the online system. Do not submit an application to the Health Career Enrollment Center.
When are the admission courses offered?
Many admission courses are offered every semester at Tri-C. Many offer both day and evening class times; a few offer virtual classes. DMS-specific admission courses are only offered at the Western Campus. DMS-1320, Introduction to Scanning, is only offered spring semester due to lab availability.
Can I take the admission courses closer to my home/work?
Many of the admission courses can be taken at any of the Tri-C campuses. DMS-specific courses are only offered at the Western Campus. If you are interested in completing any program admission courses at a college other than Tri-C, check online at Transferology.com to see if the course transfers equally for the one you intend it to replace. Keep in mind that very few colleges offer courses that are equivalent to the Diagnostic Medical Sonography-specific admission courses.
How long does the program take to complete?
The program is five semesters comprised of general education courses, a Sonography core, and specialty option courses. The required general education courses may be taken prior to acceptance, while waiting for the next Program to begin, or during the DMS program. The Sonography core courses provide the necessary background and knowledge in the physics of sound waves, medical terminology, patient care techniques, scanning experience, and a capstone course. Hands-on scanning experience is provided at the on-campus lab and at various clinical affiliates. Specialty option courses expand on anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pathophysiology as they pertain to the sonographic specialty.
The program is cohort-style with most courses offered only once a year. It is not possible to complete the program in less than five semesters, nor can the program be completed by extending the course of studies on a part-time basis. Because of the level of difficulty and the required amount of studies, the program requires a full-time commitment. Clinical hours and on-campus class hours equate to full-time. Clinical hours are scheduled during the day at hospitals and most on-campus lectures are offered in the daytime also. However, a few required lecture courses are offered in the evening. Students usually have weekends free for study or practice.
Am I able to work while in the program?
Students may choose to work on a part-time basis; however, work hours are not to interfere with course hours. Nearly all students find that concurrent employment involves the ultimate sacrifice of their personal time.
Due to intensity of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, students are encouraged to complete as many of the general education degree requirement courses before they formally start the program.
How soon can I begin the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program?
The DMS program starts each fall semester. The number of students accepted for each class year is determined by the number of students each of the program’s hospital/clinical affiliates take for a clinical experience. Each clinical site typically takes only one student per semester. Annual class size varies from 32-40 students.
This limited enrollment capacity means that not all who apply can be accepted each year. Qualified candidates not immediately accommodated will be placed on a delayed entry list (commonly referred to as the "waitlist") for the next program start. This list is dynamic; candidates are notified and moved up as vacancies occur. Only applicants who complete all admission requirements and meet the admission GPAs are placed on the waitlist.
Are there other program requirements?
A criminal background check with fingerprinting is required prior to final acceptance into the program. The program director informs students as to when to get this completed. Only background check reports performed during the specific timeframe and from the College-selected vendor are accepted. Students can also expect clinical sites to request drug testing.
After acceptance into the program, and before clinical assignment in the second semester, applicants must submit evidence of good health by fulfilling DMS program health requirements and verifying current CPR certification for Health Care Providers. Students will be dropped from the program if significant limiting health conditions are present that prevent the student from performing the normal functions of a sonographer and/or constitute a hazard to the health or safety of patients.
What other courses should I take while waiting for my Fall program start date?
First, check with financial aid to make sure that courses you take now do not interfere with your financial aid eligibility now or while in the program. It's often best to complete all other non-DMS coursework required in the curriculum sequence (such as ENG, HTEC, MA and PSY). Once those are completed, be sure to check if it is required for your chosen specialty: DMS-1381 or DMS-2330.
In addition, consider continuing your studies in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Tri-C offers several transfer options for Health Career students. Some of these involve considerable cost savings by taking courses at Tri-C that are accepted by the four-year institution. Your counselor can provide information as to available institutions and their contact information.
What clinical sites are available?
The DMS program has affiliation agreements with nearly every hospital in Cuyahoga and the surrounding nine counties. The program extends as far east as Lake Health and south to Canton’s Mercy and Aultman Hospitals. Throughout the program, you will most likely have three different clinical site rotations. Your site is selected for you based on educational needs and accreditation-required experiences.
Are there any credentialing boards for diagnostic medical sonography?
DMS Program Graduates are eligible to apply for the board examinations administered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). This organization awards the internationally accepted credentials in the areas of diagnostic medical sonography, diagnostic cardiac sonography, and vascular sonography. Specialty areas within the sonographer credentials include abdomen, obstetrics and gynecology (RDMS); adult echocardiography (RDCS); and noninvasive vascular technology (RVT).
Equal Opportunity Educational Program
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program is an equal opportunity educational program conforming to the state and federal guidelines. This program does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, race, or gender. In order to protect the privacy of its applicants, information on identified individuals to third parties may be released only after receiving written permission from the candidate involved, in compliance with FERPA guidelines.
Does the program have a grading scale?
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program uses the following grading scale for all of its course offerings. Individuals earning a letter grade below “C” in any Diagnostic Medical Sonography course fail to meet the program’s graduation requirements and will need to be repeated. Additionally, earning a letter grade of “D” or “F” dismisses the individual from the Program. The sonography profession requires an individual to make many independent judgments based on learned knowledge that affects the patient’s diagnosis. Retention and application of knowledge is critical in this profession.
Are there technical standards for the DMS program?
Students accepted into the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program must meet specific technical standards fundamental for successful and competent performance in sonography as determined by the essential functions performed by sonographers in practice. The ability of each student to meet the technical standards is determined through a physical examination conducted by a physician and competency evaluation meeting the level of proficiency required by the faculty. Entrance and progression in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program requires physical, mental, and emotional/psychological attributes and communication skills. Students must be able to meet these requirements with or without a reasonable accommodation. Questions regarding possible inability of any of these functions can be directed to the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program Director at 216 987-5564.
-Must have discriminating visual capabilities for proper evaluation of the patient and ultrasound image consistent with the abilities to assess asymmetry, discreet tissue texture changes and color distinctions under dimmed lighting.
-Must be able to distinguish audible sounds to hear information crucial for an appropriate response essential for the safe, effective care and treatment of patients.
-Must be free from health or medical disorders that limit the physical ability to perform, completely and efficiently the duties of a sonographer without risk to self or others.
-Must have manual ambidexterity and adeptness to coordinate the hands and eyes for manipulation of sonographic equipment controls, keyboard, and monitor while performing a procedure.
-Must have the physical stamina to complete the required course of didactic and clinical study according to established procedure and standards of speed and accuracy. Long periods of sitting, standing or moving are required in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings.
-Must have the strength and mobility required for activities associated with daily practice, with emergency situations, and with invasive sterile procedures.
-Ability to lift, handle and carry ultrasound accessories of up to 40 pounds in weight.
-Ability to move/transfer and skillfully position patients weighing up to 400 pounds.
-Ability to stand, sit, bend and stoop for long periods in a dimly lit room for up to 12 hours a day.
-Ability to push, pull and manipulate a mobile ultrasound machine weighing up to 600 pounds for patient bedside exams.
-Must have full use of both hands, wrists, and shoulders.
-Must be able to transfer patients to and from wheelchairs, stretchers, or beds.
-Must possess the ability to think in the abstract, specifically, to be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.
-Must possess and utilize the mental ability to apply previously learned knowledge. Application of this knowledge includes the ability to measure, calculate, rationalize, analyze, integrate, and synthesize in a timely fashion according to established procedure and standards of speed and accuracy.
-Must make appropriate judgment decisions in routine and emergency situations, and in situations not clearly governed by specific guidelines.
-Must be free from health or medical disorders that limit the ability to perform, completely and efficiently, the duties of a sonographer without risk to self or others.
-Must possess the emotional health and stability required for the full utilization of their intellectual abilities, for the exercise of good judgment, for the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients without risk to self or others.
-Must be able to tolerate mentally, and emotionally taxing workloads and function effectively under stress.
-Must be able to display flexibility, versatility, dependability, diplomacy, compassion, integrity, motivation, and interpersonal and professional skills at all times in the clinical and didactic setting.
-Must be free from health or medical disorders that limit the emotional/psychological ability to perform, completely and efficiently, the duties of a sonographer.
-Must show evidence of effective and appropriate written and verbal English communication skills throughout the program to all persons in both the academic setting and the clinical health care setting. Communication includes speech, reading, writing and non-verbal behavior and actions.
-Must have the ability to relate information to and receive information from patients in an accurate, empathetic, ethical, and confidential manner.
-Must be able to understand and convey information essential for the safe and effective care of patients in a clear, unambiguous, and rapid fashion in emergency situations.
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS), 216-987-5079. Although a student's self-identification as a person with a disability is voluntary, the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program can only accommodate the instructions provided by Student Accessibility Services (SAS).
How much does the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program cost?
The table below provides the estimated total expenses you should budget for to attain a two-year associate degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography from Tri-C. The College requires payment arrangements at the time of course registration.
Associate Degree Estimated Expenses
|In County||Out of County||Out of State|
|Texts and Supplies||$1,500||$1,500||$1,500|
|Clinical Reporting System||$100||$100||$100|
|SPI Registry Fee||$225||$225||$225|
|Total Estimate||$10,599 - $11,695||$12,315 - $13,683||$19,695 - $22,235|
Is financial aid/assistance available?
Students may qualify for federal or state programs and some Health Career-specific grants or scholarships once admitted to the program. Contact Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at 216-987-6000 or go to Tri-C Paying for College for information on these resources.
Additional sources can be obtained from the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (sdms.org), the American Society of Echocardiography (ASEcho.org ) and the Society for Vascular Ultrasound (svunet.org ).