Echocardiogram and Echocardiology Training and Certification

Echocardiogram and echocardiology training teaches you how to use electrodes to monitor blood pressure and heart performance, as well as how to pass certification exams. Keep reading for career, education and training, and professional certification information. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Echocardiogram and Echocardiology Training Is Available?

There are two areas of focus within this field, including electrocardiograph (EKG) and echocardiographer training. If you're looking to find EKG training, you should be able to find EKG technician certificate programs from schools' extension departments. These programs vary in length; some take around ten weeks to complete, while others are measured in clock hours.

Echocardiography programs, sometimes called diagnostic cardiac sonography programs, usually take around 2-4 years to complete. After completing these programs, you can be awarded an Associate of Applied Science or a Bachelor of Science degree.

Distance education isn't common for this field, but some schools offer online courses paired with on-campus training and/or experiences through work-study practicums. EKG certificate programs can require you to prepare EKG machines and Holter monitoring systems. Echocardiographer programs can require you to train on ultrasound equipment.

Training Levels Certificate, associate's and bachelor's degrees
Course Topics EKG: lead coding, heart stress testing, patient care, medical terminology
Echocardiography: ultrasound physics, echo imaging, anatomy, physiology
Certification Organizations Cardiovascular Credentialing International, American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, National Board of Echocardiography

What Courses Can I Expect?

EKG technician programs usually consist of a single course requiring about 50 clock hours to complete. These programs may cover topics in electrode placement, equipment control, patient communication and printing EKG readings. You can expect your program to educate you in medical terminology, safety, patient care, law, ethics, lead coding, tracking heart electrical impulses and heart stress testing. If you take a longer or advanced program, you may learn techniques for extended, portable heart monitoring through Holter monitors.

Echocardiography programs focus on techniques in imaging the valves and chambers of a patient's heart. Your program can train you in finding abnormalities, assisting with image analysis, color flow and spectral Doppler, identifying damages and operating an ultrasound machine. These programs may provide courses in ultrasound physics, vascular imaging, heart disease, echo imaging, patient care, cardiovascular pharmacology, anatomy, physiology and hemodynamics. The difference between degree levels is the amount of electives and general education courses. You can expect to take general education courses in English composition, biology, chemistry, public speaking and mathematics.

What Certification Options Are Available?

There are two main certification agencies for graduates of these fields. These certifications are offered by Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). CCI offers Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) designation, and ARDMS offers a Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) designation.

In order to be eligible for RCS certification, you may need to have completed a program accredited by the United States Department of Education (USDOE), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Depending on your level of education, you may need between six months and two years of experience in echocardiography.

Certification from CCI will also require a written exam that covers topics including examination performance, specialized techniques, therapeutic measures, pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases, policies, procedures and standards. Your certification will last three years before needing renewal. To renew your certification, you will be required to complete continuing education courses.

Once you complete an echocardiography program that is accredited by the USDOE, CHEA or CMA, you'll then be eligible to take the SPI exam through ARDMS. If you haven't completed an accredited program, you may be required to complete a varying amount of hours in clinical experience depending on your level of education and amount of previous training.

To obtain certification from ARDMS, you will need to pass a written exam consisting of multiple choice questions covering topics in patient care, safety, communication, physics principles, ultrasound transducers, pulse-echo instrumentation, Doppler instrumentation, hemodynamics and quality assurance. Your certification will last ten years. During your last three years, you'll be required to complete a renewal assessment. If you decide to advance your career, ARDMS also offers specialized certifications for adult, fetal and pediatric echocardiography.

If you decide to continue your education in hopes to be a physician, the National Board of Echocardiography (NBE) also offers certifications. They offer transthoracic, transesophageal echocardiography, stress echocardiography and comprehensive designations for practicing physicians. They also offer certifications for physicians specializing in adult and perioperative transesophageal echocardiography.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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