It is necessary to do in-depth research when assessing an online sonography program for content, structure and the ability to meet personal needs. There are many online ultrasound technology programs in 2013 claiming to be quality programs, but students need to ask questions before deciding if the claims are true. In addition, people considering distance education need to understand how it works and carefully assess whether they have the temperament and time management skills to study at home.
Following is a list of questions to ask before deciding if an online Diagnostic Medical Sonography program is the right choice.
- Is the online program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs?
- If the program is an accredited online sonography program, when is the CAAHEP review scheduled for renewal?
- What are the program prerequisites?
- What are the program course and clinical requirements?
- What are the hardware and software requirements to access the course materials?
- What educational and work experience can faculty members claim?
- Can credits from different colleges be transferred?
- What degrees or certificates in Diagnostic Medical Sonography are offered?
- What sonography concentrations or specialties are offered – general, vascular, cardiac, pediatric cardiac – and does each require clinical training?
- How many semesters does the online sonography program include, when does the program start, and does program length vary by concentration?
- How many students are accepted into the program each year?
- What options are available for clinical training in terms of types of facilities and facility locations?
- Will the school work with students to setup clinical training at a designated school?
- How much time will online coursework require each week?
- What are the typical schedules and formats of the accredited online ultrasound technician programs?
- What are the tuition and fee costs?
- What financial aid is available to help pay for school expenses?
- What are the employment opportunities once program graduates and Diagnostic Medical Sonographers in general?
- What are the job requirements of an ultrasound technician and how does the online program prepare students to meet those requirements?
- Are the teaching faculties accessible by students during the semester?
- How do students connect with other students when taking online courses?
- Are student services available, including faculty advising, financial aid counseling, and assistance with technology questions?
- How many students successfully graduate from the program?
- How many graduated students find employment?
- Does the program prepare students for taking the ARDMS exams?
Are there any fees associated with technology access?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked before choosing an online sonography program. Students have every right to expect the same services online as the services students get when attending on-campus programs.
Choosing a CAAEP program is the first step, but there are many other features to keep in mind to ensure the right school and program are chosen. Online students need to explore all program features and decide whether being a distance education student really does fit their needs and lifestyle.