Though heart disease is commonly associated with males, it is the cause of death in one out of every three women. According to the American Heart Association, in 2012, cardiovascular conditions affected over 43 million women in the United States. Thanks to the work of echocardiography technicians, who help find cardiovascular issues, doctors can diagnose and treat more women earlier and save lives. At New York state colleges and universities, techs must fulfill stringent requirements to earn an echocardiography certificate.
Prerequisites and Requirements
Like other medical degree programs, students in echocardiography certificate programs must undergo criminal background checks and drug testing prior to entrance into the certificate program. Along with the typical application process, some schools invite students in for a face-to-face interview with program directors and professors. Once accepted into the certificate program, students must maintain a minimum grade point average. For example, the program at Trocaire College in Buffalo requires a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average. Each program charges tuition, with many offering scholarships to help cover the costs of earning a degree.
Previous Education and Experience
Each program requires students to have a combination of education and professional experience before starting the certificate program in echocardiography. For example, Hudson Valley Community College in Troy mandates that echocardiography students hold an associate's degree as a registered nurse or in a health-related field such as radiologic technology or respiratory therapy. Or, students entering HVCC can have a bachelor’s degree in any field with 400 hours of professional hospital experience. Some programs also ask that students entering the program have taken certain core classes, including human anatomy and physiology; algebra, statistics or higher level mathematics course; and physics.
Earning an echocardiography certification translates into hitting the books and learning the curriculum. Topics covered in NYS certificate programs include anatomy and physiology of the heart and surrounding blood vessels; operating radiology equipment; and ways to get the best images of the heart. Students also delve into pathology of the heart and ultrasound physics. Most school programs include traditional classroom learning as well as hands-on clinical classes where students get to actually use radiology equipment and take practice scans.
A NYS certificate program may offer its own final exam or prepare students to take a national echocardiography exam. The National Board of Echocardiography sponsors one national exam, which leads to certification as an echocardiography technician. The NBE offers the multiple-choice exam once a year at third-party computer testing centers across the country. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers three types of national echocardiography certifications – adult, fetal and pediatric. Certification programs prepare techs to sit for one or all three of the ARDMS certification exams.
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