Diagnostic Medical Sonography Student Handbook
Welcome to the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Student Handbook webpage. The Diagnostic Medical Sonography Student Handbook describes many of the program policies and procedures. This page is intended to highlight some of the most commonly asked questions about the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program policies and procedures. These questions have been selected to answer some perspective students’ questions about the program before they apply, in an effort to help you make an informed decision when applying to the program.
All Montgomery College students are subject to the rules and regulations in the current College catalog: the Student Handbook, the Student Code of Conduct, and the College Policy and Procedure Manual. In addition to these Montgomery College rules and regulations, there are policies, procedures, and guidelines that are specific to Diagnostic Medical Sonography students. The Faculty reserves the right to modify, change, or delete any or all of these polices and procedures, in whole or in part.
The Following is DMS Handbook FAQs
Question 1: I work full-time and my job says they will “work with me” and let me have a flexible schedule so that I can complete the program and still work. Based on the time commitment required for the program, do you think that this would be possible?
Question 2: I see that in addition to my course work and face-to-face labs, I will be expected to attend clinicals off campus at hospitals and/or doctor’s offices 1-4 days a week while enrolled in the program. What can I expect while attending clinicals?
Question 3: In addition to required face-to-face labs that are held in conjunction with each course, the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program also offers Open Scan Lab time for all students. How often will I be able to come on campus and use the scan lab?
Questions 4: Aside from the prerequisites that are needed to apply, and all the required courses and clinicals that I can expect to complete while I am in the program, are there any additional requirements expected of me?
Question 5: I see that the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program is affiliated with many clinical sites, and some are nearby where I live. Do I get to choose where I attend my clinical sites?
Question 6: I have a completed degree in a patient care related health field and am registered/licensed in a Health Professional, is this program still two years long for someone like me?
Question 7: What happens if I have to leave the program for a semester or two? Can I just jump right back in when I am ready to come back and complete my degree?
Question 8: Can I complete two sonography specialty tracks at the same time during my two years in the program?
Question 9: What happens if I become pregnant during the program?
Question 10: What kind of grades does the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program require? Do I have to get all A’s and B’s?
Question 11: What if something goes wrong while at a clinical site? Will I be responsible for damages or get sued?
Question 12: I am allergic to latex and I know many health care facilities use latex exam gloves. Is this going to be a problem for me in the program, or at clinical sites?
Question 13: I work at a hospital listed on the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Clinical Affiliate chart. Can I do my clinicals at my job?
1. I work full-time and my job says they will “work with me” and let me have a flexible schedule so that I can complete the program and still work. Based on the time commitment required for the program, do you think that this would be possible?
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is a blended online program. Though all of your course work is delivered online, you are still required to attend face-to-face labs and clinicals off-campus at area hospitals/doctors offices. The course schedule while in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program is not designed to work around your home life or work schedule. Once accepted into the program, you should be prepared to work around your face-to-face labs, clinical days, open scan labs, meetings, homework load, etc. Each didactic course will have a required seven face-to-face labs that meet during the semester, however, much more work is involved than just attending on those seven lab days. Clinical hours are a substantial requirement and commitment. The first clinical starts at one day a week, but by the end of the program, you will be at a clinical site four days a week (in addition to other course work). A total of 1,560 clinical hours must be documented in the two years of the program. During the first year, you may find it possible to continue working at a reduced load, or during the evening or the weekends, but you will not be able to hold a Monday through Friday job. Each semester you progress through the program, the work load and off-campus clinical education commitment increases, requiring you to be on and off campus more and more and requiring more advanced assignments and studying. At some point during the program (around the beginning of the 2nd year) you will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to continue working. Only you know what your individual situation is, but it is very important to budget time and money in advance in order to be able to complete the program. The number one reason people are not able to finish the program is that they did not budget enough money to keep paying bills when their availability to work runs out. Everyone is unique and comes with his or her own backgrounds and desires to complete this program, but regardless of all of that, if you do not give yourself enough time to learn, study and comprehend what you need to, you will not end up successfully completing this program. Although time-off is relatively scarce, there are approximately two five-week breaks during the program to enjoy.
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2. I see that in addition to my course work and face-to-face labs, I will be expected to attend clinicals off campus at hospitals and/or doctor’s offices 1-4 days a week while enrolled in the program. What can I expect while attending clinicals?
Clinicals are an important part of your Diagnostic Medical Sonography education and should be taken very seriously. You will be assigned to a clinical site and will coordinate with your clinical supervisor the days and times they will allow you to attend clinicals. As you will be representing Montgomery College , it is important to look and behave in a professional manner and to the highest of standards. You will be required to wear a Montgomery College Diagnostic Medical Sonography uniform, ID badge, and maintain a presentable appearance. While you are at clinicals you will have the opportunity to work closely with healthcare teams that are caring for real patients, and you will be expected to be prepared and knowledgeable about your ultrasound studies so that you can become part of the team that is caring for these patients. You must remember at all times that your participation at a clinical site is a privilege that should not be taken for granted. During your clinical days, you will be able to practice scanning patients and will be completing various competencies for the course. The goal is to become very comfortable interacting with patients, using the ultrasound machine, and improving your speed and ability to take diagnostic ultrasound images, while following a set protocol for each study.
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3. In addition to required face-to-face labs that are held in conjunction with each course, the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program also offers Open Scan Lab time for all students. How often will I be able to come on campus and use the scan lab?
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography scanning lab is located in the Health Science Building on the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus of Montgomery College and is open for student use under the supervision of a program faculty member. The scan lab is used for required face-to-face lab sessions and additionally for open scan labs. Diagnostic Medical Sonography Faculty hold open scan labs at certain hours each week, and it is your responsibility to e-mail the faculty and ask for an open time slot to scan. At the beginning of the semester, the open scan lab schedule is posted, and may be available up to 6 days a week. Availability to attend open scan labs is based on a first-come, first-served basis and you have to bring a volunteer to scan. Most students bring their classmates to scan, so that each will get some scanning time, but you can bring whoever you like. If you scan someone who is not in the program, they will need to fill out a Scan Waiver Form. While in lab it is important to remember you are using very expensive equipment and you could lose the privilege of using the equipment if you don’t adhere to the lab rules.
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4. Aside from the prerequisites that are needed to apply, and all the required courses and clinicals that I can expect to complete while I am in the program, are there any additional requirements expected of me?
At the start of the program you will be expected to complete a criminal background check, become certified in CPR, adhere to drug testing, demonstrate proof of vaccinations, and get a physical examination. These requirements (along with any additional requirements that are specific to the site you are assigned to) are necessary because you will be at clinical sites. The clinical sites require that students are in good health and do not pose a risk to their patients or health professionals. Students have to abide by the policies and procedures of their assigned clinical sites as if they were an employee there. The background check is a simple form that is completed online. CPR certification is available throughout the year at many health organizations, such as the Red Cross or American Heart Association. Proof of vaccinations and a physical examination should be arranged through your primary doctor. Drug testing may be required by your assigned clinical site. Some sites require their employees to submit to drug testing and may extend that to students. Regardless, drug use is against Montgomery College policy.
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5. I see that the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program is affiliated with many clinical sites, and some are nearby where I live. Do I get to choose where I attend my clinical sites?
The clinical faculty assigns all students to their clinical educational site based on site criteria and each individual student’s level of “skill and need.” The clinical faculty assesses each students “skills and needs” based on objective evaluation tools that are completed by college clinical faculty and clinical affiliate instructors. You are not assigned to a clinical educational site based on where you live or which site is most convenient to you, but rather based on your learning needs. If possible, clinical faculty will take into account your individual requests due to special circumstances, but that is not the priority and you should not expect to be assigned to a clinical site based on your preferences. While in the program you will be expected to rotate through multiple clinical facilities, you will not be allowed to stay at just one site. All the clinical sites affiliated with the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program are potential sites for you to be assigned to. Keep in mind that the faculty are trying to provide you the best education and learning experience possible throughout your clinical education. If you are assigned to a site that is inconvenient for you, remember there is a good reason why you were assigned there and make the best of it.
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6. I have a completed degree in a patient care related health field. I am a registered/licensed Health Professional in a related health field, is this program still two years long for someone like me?
Montgomery College offers one program in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography with two possible options for terminal degrees: an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and a Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Only registered/licensed Health Professionals from a patient care related field who have completed a degree qualify for the Certificate. Regardless of which option you qualify for, the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is a two-year program, which cannot be completed any earlier, no matter what your prior education or qualifications. Course prerequisite and co-requisite requirements make it impossible to take courses out of sequence. The one benefit of already having a license in a health profession is that you will likely have already taken the General Course Requirements for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, such as Medical Terminology, or Concepts of Disease. The only non-Diagnostic Medical Sonography course you are required to take for the Certification is a college level English course (which most people with a prior degree will already have). Please see the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Programs link for a complete list of all the courses required for each program option.
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7. What happens if I have to leave the program for a semester or two? Can I just jump right back in when I am ready to come back and complete my degree?
If your academic studies are interrupted for more than one semester while in the program, you must reapply to the College for readmission to the program. Because Diagnostic Medical Sonography is a competency-based program, you have to complete the courses in sequence and within a two-year period. You can petition the College to allow you to return to the program without reapplying, and if you are granted an exception, a contract will be written that will outline specifics for your academic plan of action. You can only petition for readmission to the program once. This also applies to military personnel that have been deployed, you would need to reapply within the two-year time-frame, or otherwise have to repeat the program from the start. Since the program is highly structured and each class is only offered once a year, a student who is granted re-admission will need to wait one year until the class is offered again. Students who have been dismissed from the College for disciplinary reasons are not eligible to reapply for admission to the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program.
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8. Can I complete two sonography specialty tracks at the same time during my two years in the program?
Due to the heavy coursework involved with each specialty track, you will be required to choose only one track that you would like to specialize in during your two years in the program. However, once you have successfully completed a specialty track and have graduated, you are welcome to come back for another track (many students do!). Completing an additional specialty track will require only one additional year of clinicals and study. The clinical portion can often be done at your place of ultrasound employment, whereas the coursework will be done in the blended online format. Typically, it is easier for General sonography students to come back for a Vascular or Echo specialty, than the other way around. From an employment perspective, it is very advantageous to have multiple specialties. The more you know, the more marketable you will be.
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9. What happens if I become pregnant during the program?
Although medical information is confidential, it is the student’s responsibility and decision to notify the school of pregnancy if she so chooses. If the student chooses not to share that information, she is acknowledging that she is taking any responsibility for her condition and any complications that could arise. There are two options if you become pregnant during the program: to take a Leave of Absence during pregnancy, or to stay in the program throughout pregnancy. If you choose to take a Leave of Absence you would re-enter the program one year later, at the beginning of the corresponding semester in which you left. If you choose to continue with the program throughout pregnancy, you would complete all clinical rotations as assigned with no special provisions. You will be asked to apply radiation safety practices, and a radiation exposure monitoring device can be issued to you upon request.
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10. What kind of grades does the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program require? Do I have to get all A’s and B’s?
Since sonography is a profession where less-than-adequate performance may cause real harm to patients, there are higher standards for our students than other Montgomery College courses. These standards are in place to ensure the effectiveness and competency of our graduates. The academic policy for the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program states that students must have a minimum grade of “C” in all Diagnostic Medical Sonography didactic courses and a minimum grade of “B” in clinical courses. An “A” is considered 93-100%, a “B” is considered 92-86%, and a “C” is considered “85-78% for the didactic courses and 85-75% for the clinical courses. This may be quite different than the grading system you are accustomed to. An overall GPA of 2.5 is necessary to advance to the next semester.
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11. What if something goes wrong while at a clinical site? Will I be responsible for damages or get sued?
Montgomery College provides liability insurance for all Diagnostic Medical Sonography students while at an approved clinical site during assigned clinical training hours. However, each student will be held responsible for his or her actions while in contact with patients and at the assigned clinical site. The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program strongly recommends that each student has personal liability insurance. Any incident that is beyond a “routine” level of seriousness should be reported immediately to the Clinical Instructor as well as Clinical and Program Coordinators. Incident reports will also need to be filled.
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12. I am allergic to latex and I know many health care facilities use latex exam gloves. Is this going to be a problem for me in the program, or at clinical sites?
More and more health care facilities are moving away from using latex exam gloves. Students with latex allergies are required to notify their Clinical Faculty/Clinical Instructor about their allergies. The student is responsible for avoiding latex products and for using alternative products which are available at the lab. Be sure to also notify your clinical site of your allergy so that they may provide you with latex-free gloves while scanning.
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13. I work at a hospital listed on the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Clinical Affiliate chart. Can I do my clinicals at my job?
Any student employed in any capacity by a Diagnostic Medical Sonography clinical site must immediately notify program coordinators of this status to prevent “role conflict.” Under no circumstances can a student receive monetary compensation for the delivery of care during assigned clinical hours. You may be assigned to your place of employment to complete your clinical rotation, however, you may not be “at work” and “at clinicals” simultaneously. For example, you may have your clinical on Mondays and work at your current job for pay Tuesday-Friday. As mentioned earlier, clinical assignments are made based on the student’s learning needs and not because the student conveniently works there.
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14. After finishing the diagnostic medical sonography program, will I be ready to take the National Board Credentialing Exam right after graduation ?
Yes, you will be eligible to seat for your registration exam right after graduation. Moreover, there is a review course called SONO 224 which helps you to prepare for the National Board Credentialing Exam. The review course will give you the opportunity to review the important course material that is required for the National Board Credentialing Exam.
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15. Does Montgomery College provide job placement for students after graduation?
No, Montgomery College does not provide job placement for student; however, the college provides counseling. The counseling office offers a range of services to students including job searching. The college has Career Information Centers , Career Development course (DS 103) , and counselors who are willing to help students in the process of getting a job.
The college also has counselors who are willing to work with students to prepare their resume and cover letters. They are also willing to educate students to be marketable in their job interviews. Montgomery College also has several job fair programs, and students are encouraged to participate.
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