Program Structure

Overview of the Profession

Sonography is a non-invasive medical procedure that uses the echoes of high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to construct an image (sonogram) of internal organs or body structures. In sonography, a transmitting device (the transducer) sends out high-frequency ultrasound waves. Harmless sound waves, which contain no radiation, bounce off the surfaces of the object they hit. The reflected sound forms an echo which is visualized on the screen.

There are several areas of specialization in the field of sonography, including:

  • Abdomen (AB) - evaluation of all the soft tissues, blood vessels and organs of the abdominal cavities (for example: liver, spleen, urinary tract and pancreas), and small parts/superficial structures (for example: thyroid and scrotum).
  • Obstetrics (OB)/Gynecology - evaluation of the female reproductive system and fetal development during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimester.
  • Vascular Technology (VT) - evaluation and analysis of the hemodynamics (blood flow) of peripheral vessels, abdominal blood vessels, intracranial and extracranial vessels.
A diagnostic medical sonographer is a highly-skilled professional who uses specialized equipment to create images (sonograms) of structures inside the human body. Physicians interpret the images to make a medical diagnosis. The professional responsibilities of a diagnostic medical sonographer include, but are not limited to:
  • Obtaining and recording an accurate patient history
  • Performing diagnostic procedures and obtaining diagnostic images
  • Analyzing technical information
  • Using independent judgment in recognizing the need to extend the scope of the procedure according to the diagnostic findings
  • Providing an oral or written summary of the technical findings to the physician for medical diagnosis
  • Providing quality patient care
  • Collaborating with physicians and other members of the healthcare team

Essential Skills & Abilities

To practice sonography, sonographers must possess the following skills and abilities:

1. Physical/Motor Skills

  • Stand and walk for extended periods of the time
  • Perform physically strenuous tasks including raising patients in bed, maneuvering patients to and from tables/stretchers and carrying or maneuvering equipment
  • Rise from a seated position without assistance
  • Twist and bend at the waist
  • Extend the hands and arms in any direction
  • Hold, grasp and turn objects with the hands
  • Reach up to six feet off the floor  

2. Sensory Abilities

  • Correctable near vision to 20 / 40 in at least one eye
  • Correctable far vision to 20 / 40 in at least one eye
  • Depth perception
  • Distinguish shades of gray
  • Hear audible speech (e.g. person-to-person communication) at 10 feet
  • Hear speech when lips are not visible (e.g. wearing a surgical mask)
  • Hear auditory alarms (e.g. patient monitors, fire alarms)
  • Detect odors such as smoke, alcohol, noxious gasses
  • Hear speech over a telephone

3. Communication Abilities

  • Read documents in English
  • Write legibly in English
  • Speak fluently in English
  • Understand speech in English
  • Adapt verbal communication to patient/visitor limitations (e.g. hearing loss, pediatrics, diminished mental capacity)

4. Emotional and Behavior Skills

  • Willingness to take directions
  • Be self-directed and assertive
  • Provide emotional support to others in distress
  • Adapt to a changing environment
  • Monitor own emotional state
  • Manage frustration appropriately
  • Accept responsibility for own errors or shortcomings
  • Express emotions in a socially-acceptable manner
  • Respect interpersonal boundaries
  • Manage interpersonal and organizational conflicts in a respectful and professional manner

5. Intellectual Abilities

  • Recall information with reasonable accuracy
  • Recognize cause and effect relationships
  • Anticipate/plan ahead for activities or situations
  • Perform tasks in a logical and efficient sequence
  • Prioritize competing tasks
  • Problem solve when the solution is not self-evident
  • Use visual/spatial processing in evaluating radiographic images
  • Demonstrate attention to detail
  • Evaluate own performance to determine corrective actions when appropriate

Assessment Of Essential Skills & Functions

Ascension St. Vincent Sonography Program does not discriminate on the basis of disability as determined by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Physical/motor skills, sensory abilities, and communication skills are not assessed during the selection phase of the admissions process.

Emotional/behavioral skills and intellectual abilities are assessed during the selection phase of the admissions process as they relate to a candidate’s academic record, and ability to communicate effectively in English during a personal interview.



  1.   Exposure to infectious diseases:
    • Students will be exposed to patients with known and unknown infectious diseases, will handle and dispose of body secretions, blood, stool, etc., and will be exposed to infectious waste and blood borne pathogens. Students are taught proper infection control practices including Standards Precautions and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize risk to self and others. 
  2.   Exposure to workplace violence:
    • While these situations rarely occur, contact with combative or aggressive patients, family or visitors may happen. Students are taught de-escalation techniques and how to call for assistance when necessary.
  3.   Exposure to sharp instruments:
    • Students may be exposed to needles, scalpels, and other sharp objects which may or may not be contaminated with infectious waste and blood borne pathogens.  Students are taught to properly handle and dispose of sharp objects to minimize the chance of injury to self and others.
  4.   Ergonomic stressors:

    • Students may encounter physical demands of pushing heavy carts, stretchers and other objects. Students are taught proper body mechanics and practices to minimize personal injury.