Answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions
1. After I do this, how do I get registered?
Click on our Pathway to Certification charts; they’ll show you the prerequisites for your present academic standing. In general, three agencies can credential ultrasound professionals: TheAmerican Registry of Radiologic Technologists credentials registered radiology technicians in general and vascular ultrasound; the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers credentials allied health professionals in every specialty of ultrasound; Alliance for Physician Certification & Advancement credentials physician professionals in every specialty of ultrasound; Cardiovascular Credentialing International credentials cardiovascular allied health professionals in noninvasive and invasive cardiovascular procedures, including ultrasound. Each organization has its own prerequisites; each requires applicants to pass written exams in acoustic physics and clinical testing principles. Recent pass/fail rates for these exams (as available) are posted here.
2. Can I do an ultrasound exam without being registered and still get paid?
Oregon and New Mexico require that all persons working in diagnostic ultrasound be credentialed. Most medical insurance payers require exams to be performed by credentialed professionals. You should set your sights on the highest standard of credentialing possible, to offer patients the highest standard of care you can provide.
3. Do I have to have a 2-year or 4-year degree?
All three credentialing agencies have a fundamental education prerequisite in place. Cardiovascular Credentialing International accepts candidates with high school education, plus two years of clinical experience. CCI and the ARDMS recognize allied health credentials from the Associate Degree level upwards. The ARRT does likewise, but only for already-registered radiology technicians. Check the complete prerequisites for the ARDMS and CCI agencies; we’ve color coded them to make understanding them easy. These are subject to change, so be certain to verify them with the agencies’ most up-to-date policy.
4. Do I have to be a radiology tech?
No. The field of sonography is open to degreed professionals and qualified individuals from any field. As you can see from just above, high school graduates with two years’ experience can apply for the CCI cardiology or vascular credentials. This field does require a thorough knowledge of anatomy and clinical disease, of course, but radiology science is not a necessary or favored path. The American Society of Radiologic Technologists offers its own exam in general and/or vascular sonography for its own members.
5. Are you accredited?
Accreditation refers to the status a formal two or four-year school achieves when it demonstrates compliance with approved standards set forth by state or other professional agencies. Our training activities are subject to a different kind of recognition and accreditation as such does not apply.
6. Are you CAHEA accredited?
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education accredits only formal programs of at least one year in length. This does not apply to our institution.
7. What’s the difference between you and a 2-year or 4-year program?
The difference lies in our focus and our use of your time. In the first year of a two year program usually focuses on your general education in biology, math, and science; the second on clinical science, ultrasound physics, scan technique and clinical rotations where you observe and practice skills taught in class. A four-year program deepens the experience in three ways: 1) your general education is spread longer, 2) more time is spent building your understanding of clinical biology and pathophysiology, and 3) you acquire more hours in the same sort of clinical rotations as a two-year program. Graduates from an accredited 2 or 4-year program can immediately apply for certification through the ARDMS or CCI credentialing exam. Inspect both agencies prerequisites and the most current ARDMS pass/fail rates.
8. What’s the difference between certification from you and certification from a two-year program?
Certification in ultrasound comes only from your successful score on a recognized credentialing exam, such as the ones offered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). The principal difference between us and a long-term program is that ours is structured to lay down a foundation of knowledge and a core of skills, then release you to your clinical site to grow them under peer supervision and feedback. You are ultimately responsible for your own development; we are your starting point and frame of reference. The two-year experience is more measured and orchestrates your learning for you in a carefully integrated fashion. Perfect-world scenarios build your knowledge base and clinical observation and practice sessions help temper them with reality. We both teach from the same set of facts and use the same reference books.
Our program is more effective for professionals who already have core medical knowledge and who will be returning to a clinically active environment where they can put skills to practice and feedback. A longer term program is much better suited to persons who are entering the field for the very first time. Both, when properly executed, can lead to certification. But there are no shortcuts with either route: you will ultimately need a core skills set, clinical experience, and a passing score on your certification exam to succeed in the field.
9. How many people are going to be in the class with me?
We strictly limit class size to be able to focus attention on your individual learning. Usual class size is less than a dozen persons; this fosters a community atmosphere without sacrificing intimacy. Regardless of size, our unique approach creates a peer-to-peer support network that further deepens the learning process during class.
You won’t feel intimidated and you won’t be ignored in a sea of faces. You will immediately become family, no matter who you are or where you’ve come from.
10. Am I going to get one-to-one attention, or is it watch-one, practice-one, then go home and do one?
Our main focus is to get your hands, eyes, and thinking organized to perform the ultrasound exam, in that order.
To be able to accomplish all three in a brief period of time, we apply close attention to you at every turn. But we also expect you to submit to the process of learning, which includes attention, self-study, and practice. To this end, we’ve created a college campus-style environment, complete with 24-hour scan laboratory, where after-hours practice and peer-to-peer learning makes the most of every hour you’re with us. And after the course adjourns, we continue to apply individual attention to you forever, through our post conference mentoring program, for free. You never leave us.
11. What do I do after hours at the end of the day?
Anything you like, because you’ve got a universe of choices, and you’ll make new friends immediately. We hope you’ll take full advantage of our 24-hour hands-on scan lab on site, where you can practice alone or with peers in an independent setting with no instructor and your own agenda. You’ll have in-depth course materials to review, to reinforce each day’s concepts. And you’ll have Social Hour (Monday-Thursday) in the hotel lobby, to relax with beverages and hot hors-d'oeuvres. You’ll be steps away from all dining options and just a short distance to world-class shopping and entertainment. Get a preview of our host hotel siteso you can start feeling at home already.
12. What kind of other people will be in class with me; am I going to be the only one with no idea of how to do this?
You’re going to find your new friends in class are going to be just like you: they’ve come to learn more. Some will have lots of experience in o their areas, some will have less; some may have none. But everyone will share the same uneasiness about being in a new place and being seen as a learner in front of others. But the most important people you’ll find yourself in class with will be our Faculty Team, who are passionate about your success and incredibly accomplished at putting you at ease, from the first minute.
And you can be sure of one thing: there won’t be a one in the class who already has it all figured out. The less you know at the outset, the better. It makes our job even more fun.
13. What are they going to teach me?
You’re going to learn all of the steps necessary to complete a systematic exam; you’re going to learn how to identify all principal structures and relate them to each other, and you’re going to learn how to systematically define normal from suspected abnormal. In academic terms, you’re going to learn the nuances of abstract spatial reasoning, conspicuity, and critical matrix analysis.
But there’s more: you're going to learn how to become an even better clinician, by becoming an even better person. This is the magic behind the scenes in our classes. It is the secret ingredient that sets us apart from every other. It is the unseen element that you just have to be there to see, experience, and become a part of.
14. What’s my day going to be like? Do I sit in a classroom all day?
The first day starts at 9 am, with greetings and an overview of the entire course. Each day afterward is spent with half of our time together in the Scan Lab, half in the classroom discussing new ideas and exploring answers to your questions. We break for a light complimentary lunch, served onsite for half an hour at midday. Each full day concludes by 4:00 pm.
From this point afterward, there’s usually a few minutes where you and your newfound friends plan the afternoon/evening activities, which usually include group dining, shopping, and (of course) independent evening scanning in our 24-hour Scan Lab. You’ll retire to your own suite, equipped with a full kitchen with separate parlor and sleeping quarters. You’ll have plenty of room to share with your family, pets, and friends. Visit with our host hotel preview to start making plans for your new home with us.
15. How much hands-on time am I going to get?
We believe this is the most important part of your learning because ultrasound is so hand-eye dependent. Our hands-on strategy has been refined over thirty years of experimentation, and we think we have the best approach of any course, regardless of term. Hands-on practice is available at least 16 of every 24 hours you’re with us.
Our hands-on strategy is broken into three parts. The first involves pre-planning in class discussion: structure organization and appearance, coupled with our approach to it. The second phase involves actual hands-on practice on normal subjects (each other) to experience real-world challenges; we do this in small groups under the lead of our expert Faculty. The third plane of learning incorporates after-hours practice, peer-to-peer, without the pressure or presence of an instructor. This element reinforces the other two and builds confidence, confidence without pressure to perform, as will be the case on returning home. We repeat the cycle each day.
16. How many clinical hours will I need to obtain afterward to qualify for the certification exam?
Prerequisites for the credentialing exams are subject to change. Requirements for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (available only to registered radiologic technologists) can be found here. The ARDMS requires certain candidates to document 800 exams; persons who have obtained an associate or higher degree in ultrasound from an accredited institution are exempt - prerequisite chart can be found here. CCI prerequisites are based on time spent in clinical experience; these range from one to two years, depending on your prior training - prerequisites can be found here.
We’ve prepared a color-coded chart to help you analyze your present requirements.
17. Who’s going to teach my class: per diem people or people who actually work for your institution?
Our institute’s title might suggest we’re a franchise, or promoter-type organization, bringing in various luminaries for different shows. We are not. We are a group of career professionals; each one We’ve worked together for between five to forty years in our mission. Each one of us is clinically active in our field and is an expert in communicating with and leading groups into new areas of learning.
Keith Mauney personally teaches part or all of every course and is responsible for every facet of your experience. There is a core of five of us, responsible for most of our teaching experiences, surrounded by another group of ten, surrounded by an advisory group of twenty. A resource network of over twenty-five thousand professionals who have shared our experience, worldwide, surrounds these three “rings”.
18. Can I get paid for my clinical hours during the period I’m fulfilling my prerequisite? Do clinical volunteer hours count toward my clinical hours?
The ARDMS and CCI credentialing exams require a minimum period of full-time experience (or its equivalent. The ARRT credentialing process requires documentation of education or prior credentialing in another area plus documentation of a minimum number of clinical exams. None of these specifically states that these activities must have been done for free or for compensation.
It is our interpretation that these clinical hours can be accrued on a volunteer basis, provided they constitute full-time engagement or its equivalent. It is entirely possible to obtain payment for your services during your “internship” prior to attempting certification. This is a matter between you and your employer. However, insurance payers may not reimburse your employer for certain exams if a credentialed sonographer has not performed them.
You can prepare a proposal for your prospective employer by researching payer policies and proposing an Employment Agreement for a certain commitment period at a staged salary in exchange for your training support. Medicare payment policies are complex and require time to research, but complete information is available. You can review and download an editable Employment Agreement we’ve prepared for you here.
19. How long have you been doing this?
Keith Mauney entered the field in 1972; he founded the institute in 1981. We’ve been growing ever since.
20. What’s the difference between you and others?
We preceded most of them; we taught many of them.
The single biggest difference is likely that we have Keith Mauney; his unique experiences in the science, the industry, and all facets of the field, coupled with his insight into you and your needs is unlike any other, and this perspective pervades our entire Team. You won’t just learn how to be a better sonographer, you’re going to be inspired to be a better clinician.
Take a more analytical look at the differences between our colleagues-in-learning and us at the chart here.
21. How often do you do the course?
You can preview the entire year’s schedule in a calendar or list form. In general, our Physics, Cardiac, and Vascular hands-on classes are held monthly; Abdominal, Breast, Pelvic/OB and Transvaginal hands-on classes are held every other month. Interpretation courses in Echocardiography and Vascular Ultrasound are held once a quarter. Stay in touch with us always by joining our private Facebook Alumni group, Born to Scan. Send your request and we'll get you inside, stat.
22. How far in advance do I need to register?
Advance registration is required; we do not admit applicants at the door. Because of the tight restriction on class size, we can only confirm your seat in class after we review your application and receive your tuition. There is no deadline, and we often receive applications right up to the day before class; however, registration is on a first come, first served basis.
You should not make nonrefundable travel reservations without verification from us of your approved status. Please allow 48 hours for us to process your application and payment.
23. If I can’t make it to class, will I lose my tuition?
In brief, we do apply an administrative charge in the event you cancel, and either refund the balance, less the admin fee, for cancelations more than thirty days in advance; for cancelations less than thirty days out, you will retain a credit balance, less the admin fee, for any course for the next twelve months. No-show registrants without notice of written cancelation forfeit tuition.
The registration cutoff date is displayed on the Course Information/Booking Page and is as close to the start of class as possible. However, classes fill in order of applications received and class size is strictly capped. We understand that unforeseen circumstances may force you to reschedule or cancel. We ask you to please be mindful that many of our courses have professionals placed on waiting lists. Please help them and us by advising us of any changes as soon possible. Your change in plans will be subject to our cancellation and refund policy; please review and agree to it when making your application:
Though you may also inform us by other means, your cancellation notice must be submitted in writing with your signature. To ensure your security we cannot officially accept telephone, electronic and fax cancellation notices.
We must receive written notice of your course cancellation or reschedule at least 21 calendar days prior to the start of the course.
Your application fee will be applied to a rescheduled class held within the next calendar year. It is voided upon cancellation.
If we receive your written cancellation at least 21 calendar days prior to the course date, your tuition payment will be refunded. Beyond this time, we cannot refund your tuition, but we will apply tuition credit to future course offerings for the next twelve months, after which is will be voided.
This same cancellation policy carries forward to your tuition credit when reapplied to subsequent course tuition. Refunds under this policy will not apply In the event you have rescheduled from your original confirmed course in order to retain the tuition credit. If a course is booked and no longer accepting applications, we will reschedule you to the next available course and retain your tuition.
Please understand that we cannot credit any of your tuition if you do not cancel your registration in writing at least 30 calendar days prior to the start of the course. We cannot make exceptions to this policy.
On very rare occasions we may find it necessary to substitute qualified instructors. In exceptional circumstances, such as death, fire, an act of war or terrorism, or a natural disaster, we may find it necessary to cancel a course. Although we will assist you in recovering any penalties you may incur due to airline or hotel policies, we cannot be responsible for charges or tangible/intangible losses incurred as a result.
24. Is it tax deductible?
Course tuition and associated travel, lodging and meal expenses are tax deductible if the primary purpose of your trip is to maintain or improve professional skills.* While you should always consult your tax advisor regarding your personal situation, our courses are designed to comply fully with current tax laws. Yet another reason to register.
* See Treasury Reg. 1.162.5; Coughlin v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 203 F 2d 307