About the Profession
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Diagnostic medical sonography includes three primary areas of specialization: general, cardiac, and vascular. General sonography includes subspecialties for obstetrics and gynecology exams, exams of the soft tissues and organs of the body, and exams of structures such as joints and tendons. Cardiac sonography examines the anatomical structure and function of the heart. Vascular sonography studies the anatomical and physiological characteristics of all arteries and veins in the body. All diagnostic medical sonography uses ultrasound to obtain images and is, therefore, considered noninvasive, having no known risks or side effects in comparison to other widely used medical imaging methods.
Cardiac Sonography (Echocardiography)
Cardiac sonographers are more commonly called echocardiographers or echo-techs. Echocardiography obtains images of the heart via ultrasound. It is one of the most widely used imaging examinations for assistance in the diagnosis of heart disease. Echocardiography is especially useful for assessing diseases that affect the heart valves and for detecting abnormalities in the motion and appearance of the heart wall.
Vascular sonographers use ultrasound imaging and other types of exams to detect anatomical and physiological changes caused by diseases of the arteries and veins and the resulting effects on organs and other tissues. Vascular disorders include carotid artery disease, which may lead to stroke; abdominal vascular diseases, such as aneurysms; peripheral arterial disease, which can result in chronic pain and may progress to loss of limbs; and venous conditions that can cause blood clots (thromboses), which can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
Cardiovascular technology consists of five areas of specialization: Cardiac sonography (adult), cardiac sonography (pediatric), electrophysiological cardiology (EKG, stress testing, cardioversion, etc.), vascular sonography, and invasive cardiology (angiograms and other catheter-based technology). The NSU Cardiovascular Sonography Program in Tampa offers didactic and clinical training in two of these specialties, cardiac sonography (adult) and vascular sonography, as an integrated curriculum. Additional course content introduces the student to pediatric cardiac sonography and basic concepts in electrophysiological cardiology. Because of strong interrelationships between cardiac and vascular diseases, the need was seen for a comprehensive program covering both specialties. Also, some cardiology departments and other imaging providers may prefer that sonographers obtain training and professional registry in both cardiac sonography and vascular sonography for purposes of diagnostic expediency and professional flexibility.
Bachelor of Health Science - Cardiovascular Sonography (B.H.Sc. - CVS)
This specialty program is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the field of cardiovascular technology. Students take online courses at the undergraduate level, as well as attend on-campus lectures integrated with hands-on training in the ultrasound lab. This prepares them for the 12-month clinical externship during their second year. Upon graduation, the B.H.Sc. - CVS student will be eligible to apply for admission to the online Master of Health Science (M.H.Sc.) program.
Master of Health Science - Cardiovascular Sonography (M.H.Sc. - CVS)
This specialty program is also designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the field of cardiovascular technology, but is for those who already hold bachelor's degrees. Students take a series of online courses at the graduate level, as well as attend on-campus lectures integrated with hands-on training in the ultrasound lab. This prepares them for the 12-month clinical externship during their second year. The M.H.Sc. - CVS student also takes electives/directed studies and complete an internship and practicum monitored by a faculty member to satisfy master's degree-level requirements. Upon graduation, M.H.Sc. - CVS students will be eligible to apply for admission to the online Doctor of Health Science (D.H.Sc.) program.