Sonography Program Spotlight

Dallas College, El Centro Campus, Diagnostic Medical & Cardiac Sonography

Dallas College, El Centro Campus, Diagnostic Medical & Cardiac Sonography Program is the oldest sonography program in Texas. This college has graduated over 200 sonographers who have touched the lives of many throughout the community. These sonographers have gone on to be educators (4 graduates are Program or Clinical Directors in Dallas/Fort Worth), lead sonographers or department managers, applications specialists or independent business owners. In the last 7 years, 20 students have published articles in the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JDMS) and one graduate presents at the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS). Students from this school have placed in the SDMS student poster exhibit competition 4 out of the last 6 years, winning 1st or 2nd place. Graduates serve a mixed demographic with their urban setting and have worked hard to make sure their cohorts reflect that demographic.

ARDMS: What sets your program apart from other programs in your community?

DC DMS: We are the oldest program in Texas and have a long history of partnerships with the health care community. We offer extensive patient care training in the form of Health Career Readiness awards. These awards consist of courses including patient care, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. We are the only program in the area that offers 1 on 1 clinical instruction available on a weekly basis. Because we are in Dallas County, we have priority placement in all the major hospitals in Dallas.

ARDMS: How has your program changed in response to COVID-19?

DC DMS: Initially we were 100% virtual but have slowly transitioned back into the lab and clinical setting. In the lab, the students scan with a plastic barrier separating them and their “patient.” To lower everyone’s risk we have a limit to how many can be in the lab at a time. We are using a combination of PPE and a disinfection routine as recommended by the CDC. All didactic course will be conducted virtually for the foreseeable future. Most but not all of our clinical sites are accepting students. Our students have had to be flexible in their scheduling so as to make up missed clinical hours.

ARDMS: What is one defining moment or story that best represents what your program means to you and your community?

DC DMS:  Every year we have 1 or 2 students who are single parents. Prior to attending the sonography program, they often had minimum wage jobs with no hopes of obtaining better employment. It is so satisfying to have a student walk across the stage for graduation and to know their life is forever changed. Not only will they be able to independently support their family, but they have shown their children the benefits of hard work and perseverance.

ARDMS: How does your program prepare students for a post-graduation career?

DC DMS:  I often say our goal is to graduate rock star sonographers. On top of the usual didactic, lab and clinical hours, our students work on several special projects. In their spring pathophysiology course, they present 4 interesting cases. Over the summer they develop the most interesting case into a professional presentation. In September we hold an event: Pathologies at the Paramount (our building used to be a Paramount studio where they filmed Walker: Texas Ranger). The students present their pathology cases to local sonographers who earn up to 3 CMEs for attending. We have held Pathologies at the Paramount for over 15 years. From day one of the program we have the students in front of the group speaking. Public speaking is not something that comes naturally to most but being comfortable speaking to peers, patients and physicians is an integral part of a sonographer’s day. Presenting at Pathologies at the Paramount gives students the confidence that they can do anything.

ARDMS: How does your program adapt to and prepare for innovation in the Sonography field?

DC DMS:  To keep up with innovation in the field students must be lifelong learners. Our students fundraise throughout the year with the goal of attending the annual SDMS conference. The conference is another life changing event. Students are exposed to what the world of sonography looks like at the national level. Being in a room with thousands of other sonographers helps cement their love for the field and helps them understand they are part of something big. In the Exhibit Hall the get to see and try many new and innovative products. In the educational sessions they hear presentations from some of their textbook authors. Many of the sessions are on cutting edge topics. It is an experience well worth the time and expense.

ARDMS: What will your program look like in 5-10 years?

DC DMS:  Our long-term goal is to allow for learning pathways that allow students flexibility as well as increasing their marketability (we will be able to offer Abdominal, OBGYN, Vascular and Cardiac with a long term goal of offering Pediatric Cardiac). We are building a new Health Sciences building and hope to incorporate new technology in our labs (VR, etc.). A dream of the program is that we have an on-campus clinic open to underserved populations. This would benefit the community as well as provide clinical opportunities for the many health care programs offered at our institution.

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