Do I Need a Nursing Degree to Become a Sonographer?

Do I Need a Nursing Degree to Work as a Sonographer?If you’re looking into healthcare positions, you may be considering either a nursing degree or work as a sonographer. Although both nursing and sonography are important jobs that help patients, they are different kinds of work and involve quite different educational preparation. Nursing and sonography degrees are distinct, and you do not need to have one in order to pursue the other.

The Differences in Nursing and Sonography

Getting involved in nursing means getting involved in whole patient care. Depending on where you work, and whether or not you have specialized in a specific type of nursing, you may end up serving a variety of patient needs. As a nurse you may work with pediatric or geriatric patients, in acute care, in a general population clinic or as a health educator in a preventative care setting. Your level of education and experience will determine the type of nursing you practice.

Someone who works in diagnostic medical sonography, often called a sonographer or ultrasound technician, is a technician with a much more prescribed role than a nurse. A sonographer works under the supervision of a medical doctor to gather ultrasound data. Ultrasound technology uses sound waves at a high frequency that create pictures of a patient’s internal areas. People are often familiar with it as a fetal monitoring device, but it can be used to help doctors diagnose and treat various illnesses. An ultrasound technician properly uses technical equipment, records and organizes data in ways that most help physicians, and sometimes educates patients about procedures.

Entry-level education

To become a registered nurse, you pursue a diploma, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Once you have completed your studies, you can take the national licensing exam that all students must pass in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN). While the majority of nurses are pursuing bachelor’s degrees, an associate’s or diploma are still acceptable entry-levels of education to become an RN.

The path to becoming a sonographer is similar to that of an RN. Students can choose different options including certificate programs, associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. The prerequisites for these programs will be different, so it’s important that you research each one. Depending on which path you choose, your education will take between one and four years. It’s important that you ensure that whatever program you pursue is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Some of the programs will provide training in certain areas of specialization, such as cardiac, abdomen or musculoskeletal sonography practices. After you graduate from an accredited program, you may also pursue certification or registration through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers or The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

Nursing and sonography are both important but in some ways very different healthcare fields. Both nurses and sonographers support the work of doctors and work in collaboration with physicians. They require a similar length of entry-level education and offer opportunities for further education, advancement, and job growth. Nurses have opportunities to work in a wider variety of settings, while sonography technicians tend to be more narrowly focused on working with specific technology. Assessing your particular talents and goals will help you decide which field to pursue, but you do not have to have a nursing degree to become a sonographer.

Further Reading: Top 10 Best Online RN to BSN Programs.