Accreditation for Diagnostic Medical Sonography Means More Opportunities for Columbus Tech Students
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017
Christmas came early for the faculty and students in Columbus Technical College’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. That’s because the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs along with the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography have reconfirmed the DMS’s five-year programmatic accreditation.
This is big news for students, faculty, and employers.
“This means that our students can sit for their board exams before they even graduate,” said Program Director Lorraine Knoll. “Without this accreditation our students would have had to wait an entire year after they graduate plus have a sponsor before being able to take the exams.”
Employers benefit because they will have faith in knowing the DMS graduates come well prepared, certified and ready to go to work. There is no delay between the program and landing a dream job with a hefty paycheck.
A five-year accreditation review is a time-consuming, detail-driven, and strenuous process. Even though material has been gathered for years, the review itself started in August 2016 with accreditation being granted Sept 2017.
“It includes a self-study with a master plan; we include information like course sequence and curriculum, clinical affiliate agreements, the number of clinical hours, lab time, exam competency check offs, didactics, and the likes,” Knoll said. “Then a team comes on campus and gathers information. They review information from the master plan and also our job placement and retention rates, they’ll talk to our employers in the community, and even interview our students.”
Having the CAAHEP accreditation may also pave the way for future disciplines within the DMS program. Knoll says research is being done to add echocardiogram -often referred to as an echo- and vascular specialties. The equipment is already in place but to confirm the add-ons, it takes additional accreditation.
The Diagnostic Medical Sonography associate degree program currently accepts up to 12 students at a time with new classes starting each January. If the echo and vascular specialties are added, that enrollment could more than double.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography is a high demand, high paying industry. May 2016 reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the annual mean salary in Georgia is approximately $62,560 and the job outlook through 2024 is at 24% -- much faster than average.