When most people hear the word ultrasound, they think about procedures used while a woman is pregnant. But, students in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program are learning that ultrasound is a vital tool for many kinds of diagnostic medicine. The breadth of different exams that ultrasounds can be used for include procedures to determine the health of muscles, organs, arteries and veins.
What is Diagnostic Medical Sonography?
Sonography is a procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to produce dynamic visual images of organs, tissues or blood flow inside of the body. Sonography is the medical field in which ultrasounds are used. Sonographers use ultrasound equipment to create images of internal body structures for medical analysis.
The DMS program at UWM is a rigorous four-year undergraduate program that requires completing four or more semesters of preclinical course work to prepare for the two-year professional and clinical training.
Director of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program Nathan Wojciechowski, BS, RDMS, RVT, explains, “Our program is the largest accredited, public university program in the state which gives students the opportunity to access a wide variety of educational and clinical experiences.”
Students standing out
Wojciechowski and Diagnostic Medical Sonography Clinical Coordinator Christine Grams, USAF Veteran, BS, RDMS, RDCS, RVT, focus on ensuring that students in the program have all the resources and support necessary for a top tier clinical education.
In the DMS program, the clinical faculty work to maintain a very small classroom size so that students do not get lost in the mix. Inside each classroom there is an emphasis on students participating in one-on-one training.
Outside of the classroom, students in the DMS program have access to an exceptionally wide variety of clinical options in the city. With partnerships including Froedtert Hospital, ProHealth Care, Ascension, Veteran’s Affairs Medical Centers and a variety of small clinics, the students gain real life work experience that leads to them establishing a connection with the ultrasound community.
The clinical experiences also help create a path to jobs for students. The DMS program boasts a 100 percent job placement rate for its graduates. Recent graduate Kayla Pride (‘19 BS Biomedical Sciences: Diagnostic Medical Sonography) explains, “One of the strongest parts of the program is having access to so many different clinical sites. It has been very helpful rotating through the different hospital systems and getting exposure to multiple ultrasound machines and computer systems.”
The future of ultrasound at UWM
The leaders of the successful DMS program want to continue to serve students in education and clinical experiences. However, Wojciechowski and Grams also have goals of expanding the program to create more spaces for student engagement both on campus and throughout the professional community.
They are working to continue to set the program apart by engaging in more research opportunities. Wojciechowski and Grams are looking for connections throughout our R1 research institution to act in an advisory role for researchers using ultrasound. Such expansion would open the door to students wishing to engage in research.
Wojciechowski and Grams also want to increase the internal diversity in their program. Grams explains, “Our patients are diverse and as we continue to expand the program it would be powerful to see that diversity reflected in our students.”