Steps Sonographers Must Take to Achieve Certification

The first step in applying for ARDMS-certification is to complete enough education and clinical experience in performing ultrasound examinations on patients. Once the ARDMS has determined that an applicant meets its requirements in all areas, the applicant is officially designated as a "candidate," and has 90 days to take at least one of the required examinations.

One exam that candidates must take covers the physical principles of ultrasound and the instrumentation that makes ultrasound equipment work. This material is technically complex, and it gets more sophisticated every year, as scientists discover new ways of using ultrasound to get better images of the various tissues and structures inside of the body.

The other required examination covers the specialty area in which the sonographer candidate practices - such as obstetrics/gynecology, neurosonology, or vascular technology (which is used to look within arteries and veins for conditions such as cholesterol-containing atherosclerotic plaques). In these specialty examinations, candidates must demonstrate specific clinical and ultrasound knowledge in specific areas.

The ARDMS examinations are taken on a computer, and many of the questions are based on actual ultrasound images. These examinations are very difficult, and many ultrasound professionals who take them are not able to pass them.

Once an applicant has passed at least two examinations - one on ultrasound physics and one on a clinical specialty area - he or she becomes an official ARDMS "registrant" or "certificant."

But ARDMS requirements don't end there. All ARDMS certificants must pursue continuing medical education to keep up with the rapid advances in ultrasound and fine-tune their skills in patient care.

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