A sonography student points out areas on scans she recently did. The sonography program
held an open house recently where students had the chance to showcase their skills
and what they've learned so far. Michael Smith/LCCC
The images were dark, but Katie Holtorf knew exactly what she was looking at on the screen.
The Laramie County Community College sonography student used the sonography probe that was on student Stacy Dolan’s stomach to find the organ.
“Here’s her liver,” Holtorf said to the prospective student who was watching. “You can see her heart here, and here’s her gallbladder.”
Holtorf maneuvered the probe around Dolan’s stomach and noted the different organs as a way to showcase what she’s learned so far in LCCC’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography program.
The demonstration was part of the program’s open house and bake sale, which was held during National Ultrasound Awareness Month in October, and gave prospective students the chance to learn more about the major.
“Our students guide visitors through an ultrasound and how it works,” said Adrienne Wade, Diagnostic Medical Sonography program director. “They show them what they’re looking at. This gives our students a chance to teach others about a field that they love and to also teach visitors more about the sonography program.”
LCCC’s sonography program is an intense, six-semester program designed to teach students to perform ultrasound exams while working with a qualified physician. Sonographers who graduate from LCCC leave with in-depth knowledge of physics, disease processes, human anatomy and sonographic techniques. Sonography is a diagnostic procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to create detailed images of the human body.
“Our program is general sonography, which includes abdomen and small organs such as the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, thyroid, breast, neonatal brain and OBGYN,” Wade said. “We offer hands-on training, and we work on real people after they’ve signed a consent form. We also practice on each other. We also have one of the best labs in terms of having newer machines.”
LCCC’s program also is unique in that it’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
The accreditation is vital because it allows students to meet the requirements to apply and take the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists national sonography exams.
“A lot of insurance companies and Medicare typically will only pay for procedures that are done by a certified sonographer, which is why our program is excellent,” Wade said. “Our graduates have a 100 percent rate of being hired after graduation because we have such a rigorous program.”
There’s also a high demand for qualified sonographers, making LCCC’s program appealing to prospective students.
“The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that the field of imaging as a whole will grow by 39 percent from 2012 through 2022,” Wade said. “When students graduate, they typically start off making $26 to $28 an hour.”
Many of the students who enter LCCC’s program already have an associate or bachelor’s degree, although it’s not required. A background in health care also isn’t required to be admitted into the program.
For those who have attended in previous years, the open houses solidified what they knew in their hearts – that they wanted to be sonographers and attend LCCC.
“This program is so challenging and fun,” said student Heather Hayner. “You learn so much about the body. What I love about LCCC is it’s an accredited program and produces quality sonographers. When we graduate, there’s a 100 percent pass rate for our exams, and there’s also a 100 percent placement rate in jobs in six months.”
Student Misty Krehmeyer agreed.
“You get hands-on experience, which is definitely beneficial when you enter the job market,” she said. “We scan every day. That’s such a great way to learn, because you become familiar with the equipment, and you get to learn about the body and see what’s going on inside.”
Students interested in learning more about the sonography program can visit the website.