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Diagnostic Medical Sonography

 FAQ about DMS Program

Prospective Students

 

Welcome to the FAQ about DMS Program 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? 

Question 17:  I took my anatomy, physiology, physics, and biology 5 years ago. Does Montgomery College accept my old credits?

Question 18:  I am a mom of two kids. Can I determine my start and end time at my clinical site?

Question 19:  If I encounter an emergency in my personal life, can I postpone my exam or retake my course?




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

 

 An Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) is an undergraduate academic college degree awarded by and education institution upon completion of a course of study lasting two years of technical training for the degree. That means you'll be taking your subject interest classes and upon successfully completing the requirements will be able to work toward being fully trained in your field at the end of your two-year program. That means, upon successful completion of the two-year MCDMS program, a student 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).  Additionally, if the MCDMS graduate should decide to pursue higher education, Montgomery College has obtained many Guaranteed Admission Agreements with four-year universities so that an MCDMS graduate can transfer into Bachelor of Science Degree programs.  Click on these links to find out more about the  MC-GW transfer opportunity http://smhs.gwu.edu/academics/health-sciences-programs/guaranteed-admission-agreements or  other college transfer opportunities http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/EDU/Plain.aspx?id=49246 for MCDMS graduates.

 

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2. 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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3. Are there prerequisites for the DMS program?

 

 Yes, in order to be considered for admission, there are prerequisites in English, Math, Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, and Physics that must be successfully completed prior to applying to the program. For specifics, see the DMS application here Health Science Application http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/edu/plain.aspx?id=3666 and DMS Admission FAQ's about Admissions to the program.

 

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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?

 

    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 212) 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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5. 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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6. 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 Enhancement Lab time provides each student with hands-on scanning. Skills Enhancement Lab optional supervised scanning times) are also available -- try to take advantage of them. 

 

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7. Will I be able to choose my clinical sites?

 

Students do not choose clinical sites for their rotation work. One of the most important reasons is that students have to be assigned in clinical sites that have trained, qualified, and registered sonographers in the specialty concentration the student is enrolled in. Moreover, by the end of the program students have to have the experience necessary for them to work at a hospital or in an out-patient setting. For these and other reasons necessary to maintain the high standard of ultrasound education of the MCDMS program, a Faculty Committee takes care of the clinical rotation assignments. It is also important to note that 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)

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

        * Variety in clinical instructo-rship and case volume handled by the site;

        * Student exposure to a variety of equipment

 

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

 

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8. 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 the demands of the clinical course requirements, many students have found working while in the program to be extremely difficult. Nonetheless, some students have successfully completed the program while working part-time.

The MCDMS program is among the best accredited ultrasound programs at the leading edge of ultrasound education. Being so, students in this program are expected to comply with the requirements imposed on the program by its accrediting agencies. If a student has a lot of commitments outside school, the student will need to balance his/her priorities to be able to successfully complete the requirements of the program.

The program will require the student to complete all the requirements to earn the AAS degree. As such, by graduation, all general as well as core courses (SONO courses) must have been successfully completed. The completion of just the core courses will involve time for clinical work. If a student has a lot of commitments outside of school, the student must remember to plan carefully.

 

FIRST YEAR         

Summer: 1 day a week (+ Optional Skills Enhancement Labs) 

Fall: 3 days a week (+ Optional Skills Enhancement Labs) for a total of 15 weeks or 1 semester  

Spring: 3 days a week (+ Optional Skills Enhancement Labs) for a total of 15 weeks or 1 semester

SECOND YEAR

Summer: 4 days a week (Clinical)

Fall: 5 days a week (+ Optional Skills Enhancement Labs) for a total of 15 weeks or 1 semester

Winter: 5 days a week (clinical) for a total of 3 weeks

Spring: 5 days a week (+ Optional Skills Enhancement Labs) for a total of 15 weeks or 1 semester

 

    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. 

    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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9. Will I be a registered sonographer upon graduation?

 

Considering the last four consecutive years’ records of the program, you will highly likely be a registered sonographer upon graduation by successfully passing the 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 passing of the SPI Board Exam is a pre-requisite 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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10. 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 Exams before graduation.  

    When planning your examination schedule, you should keep in mind that you are required to take both a physics board exam (SPI) and the corresponding specialty area exam(s) 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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11. 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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12. What percentage of students successfully complete the DMS program at MC?

 

    The majority of students who start the DMS program will finish the program in two years, however financial and family obligations are the most common reasons students do not finish the program.

 

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13. What percentage of students eventually pass their board exams?

 

MCDMS students have a high pass rate on their board exams. The board exam pass rate varies from year to year, but the MCDMS percentage, so far, has consistently been higher than that of the national average. Please refer to the DMS Program Outcomes on this website for graduate board pass rates.

 

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14. Will the college help students find jobs after graduation?

 

The college does not have a placement service for students. However, 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, in the past, most of our students find themselves with jobs lined up before they finish the program. Please refer to the DMS Program Outcomes on this website for graduate board pass rates.

 

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15. 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 with prudent use of ultrasound. Studies in humans have revealed no direct link between the correct 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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16. 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. For more information on the DMS specialty tracks offered at Montgomery College, click here  DMS Specialty Tracks. 


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17. 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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18. I am a parent with kids. Can I determine my start and end time at my clinical site?


  
Yes/No, 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 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 and check-in and check-out of clinicals.  


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19. 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. Any work missed must be made up. The Course Instructor is guided by the college policy on course withdrawal.

20. Can I be assigned at the hospital where I work? 

  No.  The MCDMS clinical hours spent at the Ultrasound Department cannot be considered as a paid employee time.  No student working at an affiliated site may work at the that site as a student doing clinical work for the MCDMS Program.


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