Earlier this year, Chris Kramer, BA, ACS, RDCS, FASE, provided information regarding how vascular and cardiac sonography are “linked” in his Sonographers’ Communication article entitled “Cardiac and Vascular Sonographers: Linked Together.” In this JASE Blue Page article, it was reported how changes in arterial and venous spectral Doppler waveforms are “linked” to cardiac ultrasound findings. The author further explained how understanding vascular sonography can help explain cardiac imaging findings and how having this broad knowledge base is helpful to cardiovascular sonographers. This current paper will focus on where sonographers can find information about vascular sonography educational programs and provide educational resource information for current program directors wishing to develop vascular sonography educational content.
Vascular sonography is offered as a learning concentration for the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited programs for the professions of cardiovascular technology (CVT) and diagnostic medical sonography (DMS). For individuals interested in learning vascular sonography, a listing of accredited programs can be found on the CAAHEP website under resources for students. Reviewing this list of programs is a good starting point for anyone interested in learning vascular sonography because CAAHEP accredited programs are peer reviewed and accreditation assures that programs are meeting standard educational requirements with regard to educational content, resources, and student outcomes (such as credentialing success rates, graduate and employer surveys, and credentialing success rates). Currently, there are 18 accredited vascular sonography programs for CVT and 74 accredited vascular programs for DMS.
Educational content for vascular sonography is extensive and requires didactic and clinical education course sequencing to ensure that students achieve mastery in the following (for full details of curriculum content refer to the CAAHEP Standard and Guidelines documents ): cerebrovascular (carotid imaging, transcranial Doppler, color coded transcranial Doppler imaging); peripheral arterial (physiologic testing lower and upper extremity [ankle-brachial index], segmental pressures, digital pressures, volume pulse recording [plethysmography] photoplethysmography, transcutaneous oximetry [TCPO2]); peripheral venous (lower and upper extremity venous imaging [deep venous thrombosis imaging/evaluation], venous reflux imaging, vein mapping); and abdominal Doppler imaging (aortic evaluation, liver Doppler, renal artery, transplant imaging). In addition to the aforementioned content areas, vascular sonographers also have to have knowledge of other imaging modalities (computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging), vascular therapies, and normal and abnormal presentations to be able to tailor examinations to answer the clinical question and knowledge regarding needle guidance to assist with procedures.
For program directors, in addition to the CAAHEP Standards and Guidelines, other resources include registry review outlines and the National Education Curriculum (NEC). These resources provide content outlines for vascular sonography. The registry outlines provide information regarding content areas on the national credentialing examinations from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). The NEC provides a content outline that was developed collaboratively with 18 organizations. For vascular sonography, this document provides educational content outlines for fluid dynamics, physiology and hemodynamics, physical and electrical principles, quality measurements, as well as information regarding the clinical testing areas of cerebrovascular, peripheral arterial, peripheral venous, and abdominal/visceral.
In summary, there are many resources available to learn about the content for educational preparation to become a vascular sonographer. This article addresses a few of the main starting documents for cardiac sonographers to view if they are interested in becoming a vascular sonographer.
Carol Mitchell, PhD, RDMS, RDCS, RVT, RT(R), ACS, FASE, is an Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Mitchell currently serves as Chair of the ASE Council on Cardiovascular Sonography Steering Committee.
Margaret M. Park, BS, ACS, RVT, RDCS, FASE, is an HVI Lead Imaging Specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Coordinating Center for Clinical Research (C5) Imaging Core Lab, and a Clinical Research Coordinator, for the Department of Pathobiology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio. She serves as Chair-elect of the ASE Council of Cardiovascular Sonography Steering Committee.