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Diagnostic Medical Sonography

 Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective Students

 

Welcome to the frequently asked questions page. This page is designed to answer the most commonly asked questions prospective students have about the DMS Program. Need more answers? Click here to go to the Inside Scoop Main Page and the DMS Student Handbook. Students are also strongly encouraged to attend a DMS Information Session to discuss any questions or concerns with a faculty member.

 

Question 1: What is an Associates of Applied Science? 

Question 2: What is the application process for the DMS program? 

Question 3: Are there prerequisites for the DMS program? 

Question 4: What coursework will I have to take to fulfill the General Education Requirements for DMS Degree Students? Can I take these courses prior to admission into the DMS program? 

Question 5: Does admission take place once or twice a year? How many students are accepted into the program each year? 

Question 6: What are clinical rotations? Are they required for the DMS program? 

Question 7: Will I be able to choose my clinical sites? 

Question 8: Can I work while attending the DMS program? How much time does this program take? 

Question 9: Will I be a registered sonographer upon graduation? 

Question 10: When do I qualify to sit for my registry exams? 

Question 11: Can I take the Board exams more than once if I do not pass? 

Question 12: What percentage of students successfully complete the DMS program at MC? 

Question 13: What percentage of students eventually pass their board exams? 

Question 14: Will the college help students find jobs after graduation? 

Question 15: Are there any health related side effects for sonographers or students? 

Question 16: After I complete the program, can I return and learn another track? 

 

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What is an Associates of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography?

 

    An Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) is a technical degree. That means you'll be taking your subject interest classes straight out of the gate and will work toward being fully trained in your field at the end of your two-year program. Upon completion of the two year degree program, students will earn an Associates of Applied Science (A.A.S.) and will be eligible to take board exams offered through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).  Montgomery College has many Guaranteed Admission Agreements with four year universities so that graduates can transfer into Bachelor of Science Degree programs.  Click on these links to find out more about the MC-GW transfer opportunity or other college transfer opportunities for MC graduates.

 

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What is the application process for the DMS program?

 

    Students interested in applying for the DMS program must submit the following information to the Admissions Office/Takoma Park Campus PRIOR to March 1st.

 

        * Montgomery College Application and a one time fee (unless you have previously attended Montgomery College). 

       * Health Science Application (PDF) is used for applying to the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program   

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Are there prerequisites for the DMS program?

 

   Yes. In order to be considered for admission there are prerequisites that must be met in English, Math, Biology,  Anatomy, physiology and Physics. For specifics see the DMS application here Health Science Application and DMS Admission FAQ's about Admissions to the program.

 

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What coursework will I have to take to fulfill the General Education Requirements for DMS Degree Students? Can I take these courses prior to admission into the DMS program?

 

    Students in the Montgomery College DMS program must complete 33 credit hours of general education and other required coursework. Some of these courses (e.g. BIOL 204) have prerequisites that must be completed prior to taking them. Students are expected to complete these courses in addition to the credit hours required of the DMS curriculum.

 

    Though students are not required to have completed all their general education and other required coursework prior to applying for the DMS program, it is highly recommended that they successfully complete as many as possible beforehand. The DMS curriculum is demanding and does not leave room for many other classes.

 

    For a suggested course sequence for the DMS program, click on the DMS Admissions tab on the left hand tool bar.

 

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Does admission take place once or twice a year? How many students are accepted into the program each year?

 

    Admission to the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program takes place only once a year. All admission applications, transcripts, and placement tests must be submitted BEFORE MARCH 1st for admission the following summer semester.

    The DMS Program admits General Sonography, Echocardiography, and Vascular students once a year. Students will be required to choose their specialty track before beginning the program. The capacity of Montgomery College for new students is 30 each year.

 

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What are clinical rotations? Are they required for the DMS program?

 

    Clinical rotation prepares students for the challenging responsibilities of the profession and provide opportunity to acquire a working knowledge of the field, provide a clinical educational experience that enables students to be capable of performing routine sonographic procedures and related functions specific to general sonography, provide an education experience that promotes effective communication skills, critical thinking abilities and professionalism, and promote the development of core values and ethical standards necessary for the delivery of quality, patient-centered care.

Clinical rotations are formal arrangements that provide DMS students with hands-on experience at an ultrasound facility. Clinical hours are required by the DMS program and for American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) certification upon graduation. By the end of the DMS program, students will complete 1560 clinical hours. While on-site, students are supervised by a clinical instructor who participates in the grading of required clinical competencies.

 

    Learning to produce good ultrasound images takes a lot of practice. The only way to learn is by scanning. Skills Enhancment Lab time provides each student with hands-on scanning. Open scans (extra supervised scanning times) are also available -- try to take advantage of them. Clinical time after the first semester is where much of the "hands-on" learning will take place. The DMS program classwork doesn’t provide hands-on experience for invasive studies (i.e. transvaginal, transesophogeal, and transrectal).

 

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Will I be able to choose my clinical sites?

 

    Students are not permitted to choose their own clinical sites. One reason is because the list of clinical affiliates changes regularly; thus, site locations will vary. In addition, not every clinical site offers opportunities to gain experience in each specialty track. Students are assigned to clinical sites based on criteria including but not limited to:

 

        * Student expression of desired track of study (General, Echocardiography & Vascular);

        * Diagnostic lab availability (General, Echocardiography & Vascular);

        * Complements the student's individuality (technical, interpersonal, etc)

        * Rotational fairness to fellow students;

        * Overall compatibility of student/mentor/site/affiliate;

        * Exposure of student to in-patient and out-patient experience;

        * Variety in clinical instructorship and case volume handled by the site;

        * Student exposure to a variety of equipment (Acuson, ATL, GE, Diasonic)

        * Student’s technical ability as indicated by their Acoustic Physics grades, Cross-Sectional Anatomy grades, etc.

 

    For a list of some of the clinical affiliates, click here Clinical Affiliates.

 

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Can I work while attending the DMS program? How much time does this program take?

 

    There are no policies prohibiting students from working while attending the DMS program. However, due to the challenging curriculum and clinical hours required of DMS students (especially during the second year), many students have found working while in the program to be extremely difficult. That said, some students have successfully completed the program while working part-time.

 

    We wish we could say that this program is easy, but it's not. This is especially true if you have a lot of commitments outside of school. Here is an approximation of how much in-class time you can expect to invest during the two years of the program. THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE YOUR STUDY TIME

 

FIRST YEAR         

Summer: 1 day a week (Skills Enhancement Labs)  

Fall: 3 days a week (Skills Enhancement Labs and clinical)                                                                         

Spring: 3 days a week (Skills Enhancement Labs Labs and clinical)                                     

 

SECOND YEAR

Summer: 3 days a week (Clinical)

Fall: 5 days a week (Skills Enhancement Labs Labs and clinical)

Winter: 5 days a week ( clinical)

Spring: 5 days a week (Skills Enhancement Labs Labs and clinical)

 

    Time Requirements – Outside of DMS class time:

 

       1. If you have any of the general education requirements to complete (listed here), these will increase your total in-class time. Current students suggest that the more general education classes you can finish before you start the program the better.

       2. Also, most classes involve considerable amounts of homework and project work. Current students suggest you plan on at least a few hours at school one additional day a week for watching required videos in the library, writing reports, finishing up projects and for optional, but much encouraged scanning during open scan labs.

       3. Learning to produce good ultrasound images takes a lot of practice. The only way to learn is by scanning. Class time provides each student just 45 minutes a week of hands-on scanning. Open scans (extra supervised scanning times) are available -- try to take advantage of them. Clinical time after the first semester is where much of the "hands-on" learning will take place.

 

    People say as a rule of thumb that you can expect to spend at least one hour outside of class for each hour in class. This varies from one person to the next, of course. Also, this is probably not true for the summer semester or during the second year. During these later semesters, much of the in-class time is actually spent in clinical practicum settings. Clinical work involves some outside homework, but the amount is typically less than it would be for ordinary classes.

 

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Will I be a registered sonographer upon graduation?

 

    Yes, if you pass your ARDMS board exams. During the 2nd summer session of the program, students are required to sit for their first National Board Exam with the ARDMS in Acoustical Physics (SPI Board Exam).  The successful pass of the SPI Board Exam is a pre-req requirement to the 2nd Fall Semester in the DMS Program. During the final semester in the DMS Program students are required to sit for their Specialty National Board Exam(s) offered through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Depending on which specialty track you complete (i.e. general, vascular, and echocardiography), ARDMS offers the following certifications:

 

        * RDMS - Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

        * RDCS - Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer

        * RVT - Registered Vascular Technologist

 

    For more information on certification, click here: http://www.ardms.org

 

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When do I qualify to sit for my registry exams?

 

   Students are required to sit for their national board exam before they complete the DMS program.  The National Board Exam is provided by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonogarphers (ARDMS) and students must qualify with the ARDMS to sit for their national board exam.  During the 2nd summer in the DMS Program students are required so sit for and pass their SPI Board Exam.  Successful passing of the SPI Board Exam is a pre-requisite to continue to the 2nd Fall Semester in the DMS Program.  During the Final Spring Semester in the DMS Program, students are required to site for their Specialty Board Exam before graduation. 

 

    When planning your examination schedule, you should keep in mind that you are now required to take both a physics board exam (SPI) and the corresponding specialty area exam within a 1 year span. For a list of additional considerations and ARDMS requirements for registry applicants, click here ARDMS Overview of Applicant Process.

 

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Can I take the Board exams more than once if I do not pass?

 

    Yes, according to the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) candidates who are unsuccessful in passing an examination and wish to reexamine can reapply. However, there is a mandatory 90-day waiting period after the date of the previous examination before a new examination-eligibility period can be scheduled. Students should be aware that individual employers may have their own policies governing Board exam failure.

 

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What percentage of students successfully complete the DMS program at MC?

 

    Approximately 75% of students who start the DMS program will finish the program in two years. If a student does drop from the program it is usually because of personal, family, or time constraint issues. 

 

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What percentage of students eventually pass their board exams?

 

    MC students have a high pass rate on their board exams. It does vary from year to year but the percent is higher than the national average. 

 

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Will the college help students find jobs after graduation?

 

    The college does not have a placement service for students. The DMS program does help with resume building, Registry Review courses for board exams, and job posting from employers. There is a nationwide shortage of sonographers and most of our students have jobs lined up before they finish the program.

 

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Are there any health related side effects for sonographers or students?

 

    There are no known harmful effects associated with the medical use of sonography. Widespread clinical use of diagnostic ultrasound for many years has not revealed any harmful effects. Studies in humans have revealed no direct link between the use of diagnostic ultrasound and any adverse outcome. Although the possibility exists that biological effects may be identified in the future, current information indicates that the benefits to patients far outweigh the risks.

    Visit http://www.aium.org/patient/pamphlets/safety.asp for more information.

 

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After I complete the program, can I return and learn another track?

 

    Sonographers who are currently registered in one specialty track may return to the DMS Program at Montgomery College to earn add another specialty. Returning students are required to complete one year that includes course work and clinical instruction in their desired specialty track. For more information on the DMS specialty tracks offered at Montgomery College, click here DMS Specialty Tracks. 

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 I took my anatomy, physiology, physics, and biology 5 years ago. Does Montgomery College accept my old credits?

Anatomy and Physiology credits can not be no older than 5 years.  All other college credits do not have an expiration date.

 

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I  am a mom of two kids. Can I determine my start and end time at my clinical site?


Yes. The required time for every clinical day is 8 hours. It depends on the site, however some clinical sites start a little later, and some start a little earlier. Students are required to determine set their clinical time with the clinical site. Students are treated like employee's when it comes to time, they must report on time according to their published clinical schedule.  


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 If I encounter an emergency in my personal life, can I postpone my exam or retake my course?


In this situation, students need to address their individual case with the course instructor. 


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