Description of the Profession
The sonographer is an individual who provides patient care services using ultrasound-related diagnostic procedures. The sonographer must be educationally prepared and clinically competent as a prerequisite to professional practice. Demonstration and maintenance of competency through certification by a nationally recognized sonography credentialing organization is the standard of practice in sonography, and maintenance of certification in all areas of practice is endorsed.
The sonographer functions as a delegated agent of the physician and does not practice independently.
Sonographers are committed to enhanced patient care and continuous quality improvement that increases knowledge and technical competence.
Sonographers use independent, professional and ethical judgment, and critical thinking to safely perform diagnostic sonographic procedures.
The sonographer generally performs the following:
- Obtain, review, and integrate pertinent patient history and supporting clinical data to facilitate optimum diagnostic results.
- Perform appropriate procedures and record anatomic, pathologic, and/or physiologic data for interpretation by a physician.
- Record, analyze, and process diagnostic data and other pertinent observations made during the procedure for presentation to the interpreting physician.
- Exercise discretion and judgment in the performance of sonographic and/or other non-invasive/invasive diagnostic services.
- Demonstrate appropriate communication skills with patients and colleagues.
- Act in a professional and ethical manner.
- Facilitates communication and education to elicit patient cooperation and understanding of expectations and responds to questions regarding the sonographic examination.
* Taken from the Standards and Guidelines for an Accredited Educational Program for the Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. Standards (Essentials) initially adopted in June 1979; revised in 1987, 1996, 1991, 1997, 2011 and 2020.
Upon successful completion of a Sonography Program, the graduate should be able to demonstrate entry-level competencies in the above areas of the professional practice.
The Applied Science Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at Owens Community College signifies that the holder has the knowledge and skills to be a candidate to take the national credentialing exams. All individuals admitted to an Owens Community College Sonography Program will be asked to verify that they can meet these standards with or without accommodation(s). In the event a student cannot satisfy the program standards and is not qualified for the program, with or without reasonable accommodations, they will not be admitted to or allowed to progress through the program.
The Sonography Programs provide the following description/examples of technical standards to inform prospective and enrolled students of a sampling of technical standards required in completing their sonography curriculum.
- These technical standards reflect a sample of the performance abilities and characteristics that are necessary to successfully complete the requirements of a Sonography Program. Please note: the standards are not requirements of admission into the Sonography Programs and the examples are not all-inclusive.
- Individuals interested in applying for admission to the Sonography Programs should review these standards to develop a better understanding of the skills, abilities, and behavioral characteristics required to successfully complete the program. Key areas for technical standards in sonography include certain: (a) observational skills; (b) communication skills; (c) sensory and motor coordination and function; (d) cognitive skills; (e) behavioral and social attributes and (f) ethical and legal standards.
Technical Standard I: Observation
- Students must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in physical examination sessions, clinical skills labs, and observe the difference of normal versus pathological states. They must be able to obtain a medical history and perform a complete physical examination in order to integrate findings based on these observations and to develop an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan.
- Students must have sufficient visual acuity to read sonography prescriptions and patient charts, observe conditions of the patient and evaluate sonographic images.
- Students must have the ability to perceive pertinent detail in objects or in pictorial or graphic material; to make visual comparisons and discriminations and see slight differences in shape, contour and texture of organs and vascular structure; to comprehend forms in space and understand relationships of plane and solid objects; the ability to visualize objects of two or three dimensions.
- Students must be able to use auditory, tactile, and visual senses to assess the physiological status of the patient.
Technical Standard II: Communication
- Students must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, their families, and members of the health team. Students must be able to communicate effectively with patients from different social and cultural backgrounds, as well as develop effective professional rapport with patients and co-workers.
- Students must be able to record examination and diagnostics results clearly, accurately and efficiently.
- Students must have sufficient auditory perception to receive verbal communication from patients and members of the healthcare team to obtain and record an accurate patient history and to assess the health needs of people through the use of monitoring devices such as intercom systems, cardiac monitors, respiratory monitors and fire alarms.
- Students must have sufficient communication skills in English (verbal, reading, writing) to interact with individuals and to communicate their needs promptly and effectively, as may be necessary in the patient’s interest, collaborate with physicians and other members of the healthcare team, and provide an oral or written summary of the technical findings to the physician for medical diagnosis.
Technical Standard III: Sensory & Motor Coordination & Functions
- Students must possess the capacity to perform physical examinations and diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner and provide general and emergency care. They must possess adequate sensory function and motor coordination to fulfill minimum competency objectives for inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation necessary to perform a physical examination.
- Students must possess sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control and eye-to-hand coordination in order to utilize medical equipment to participate in clinical activities.
- Students must have sufficient gross and fine motor coordination to respond promptly and to implement skills related to the performance of sonographic imaging examinations, such as positioning and transporting patients and obtaining diagnostic images. Sonographers must be able to manipulate sonographic equipment in order to achieve diagnostic images.
- Students must successfully complete and maintain CPR certification.
- Students must be able to differentiate various color combinations and shades of gray.
- Students must be able to distinguish audible sounds.
- Students must be able to work in a semi-darkened room for extended periods of time.
- Students must be able to lift up to 50lbs when moving patients and equipment.
- Students must be able to move, push, or pull heavy equipment on wheels (up to 500lbs).
- Students must be able to perform and sustain repeated bending, stretching, stooping, kneeling, reaching overhead, sitting and standing.
- Students must have the manual dexterity and hand/eye coordination to manipulate small knobs and toggle switches and control equipment.
- Students must the ability to use both hands, wrists, and shoulders to maintain prolonged arm positions necessary for scanning. Students must have the ability to reach at or above shoulder level 90% of the work time.
- Students must be able to perform their job duties while standing on their feet 80% of the time.
Technical Standard IV: Cognitive
- Students must be able to learn through a variety of modalities including, but not limited to, classroom instruction; small group, team and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use computer technology. Students must have the mental capacity to assimilate and learn a large amount of complex, technical, and detailed information in order to formulate diagnostic plans.
- Students must have sufficient intellectual and emotional function to plan and implement quality patient care, analyze technical information, and use independent judgment in recognizing the need to extend the scope of the procedure according to the diagnostic findings.
- Students must be able to demonstrate the ability to integrate diagnostic sonograms, laboratory results, patient history and medical records and adapt sonographic examinations as necessary.
- Students must be able to demonstrate the ability to organize and accurately perform the individual steps in a sonographic procedure in the proper sequence.
- Students must be able to demonstrate the ability to read and extract information from the medical chart or patient requisitions.
- Students must be able to demonstrate the ability to explain the clinical study verbally and/or in writing.
Technical Standard V: Behavioral and Social Attributes
- Students must have the emotional stability to function effectively under stress and to adapt to an environment that may change rapidly, without warning, and/or in unpredictable ways. They must accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients.
- Students must be able to work effectively, respectfully and professionally as part of the healthcare team, and to interact with patients, their families, and health care personnel in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner.
- Students must be able to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes.
Technical Standard VI: Ethical and Legal Standards
- Students must be able to understand the basis and content of both general and medical ethics. The student must possess attributes that include compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance. Students must be able to recognize limitations in their knowledge, skills and abilities and to seek appropriate assistance with their identified limitations.
Owens Community College is committed to providing equal access to employment, educational programs, and activities for students with disabilities. The College recognizes that students with disabilities may need accommodations to have equally effective opportunities to participate in or benefit from College educational programs, services and activities and will make reasonable modifications to the environment, policy and practice and/or provide auxiliary aids and services when the Disability Resource Center determines such modifications are needed for equal access.
Students who believe they are eligible for an accommodation must contact the Disability Resource Center.