The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College School of Health and Behavioral Sciences is proud to announce its Diagnostic Medical Sonography program graduates have exceeded the national average for the field’s credential exams. The score statistics, finalized a year after the students’ graduation, represent the Class of 2016. The Rio graduates’ pass rates for the four categories of the certification are 83% for Adult Echo, 75% for Vascular Technology, 100% for Abdomen and 75% for OB/GYN. The national pass rates are 66%, 72%, 75% and 73%, respectively. Not only did the Class of 2016 surpass the national average on all categories, 19 out of the 20 students are now employed full time. DMS Program Director Stephanie Saunders said she is proud to see how much they have accomplished in a year.
“I am so pleased with these results. These students work so hard for 15 months and are passionate about learning. They truly took their education seriously, and these scores reflect their drive to succeed,” Saunders said. “This is also a testament to the quality of the program. My colleagues, Laura Rupe and Carrie Denney, and I use the information from these outcomes to improve our classes, so this tells us we are on the right path in preparing our students for their careers.”
The credential exams certify graduates of DMS programs have successfully learned the skills needed for the field. In recent years, changes to insurance laws involving Medicare and Medicaid made it essential for sonographers to have these credentials in order for insurance companies to reimburse the patient following the lab tests. Saunders said these changes have made passing the exams even more important for recent graduates.
“Unlike most medical fields, the DMS field does not have a state licensure graduates need to be employed. Instead, we have credentialing exams that up until the last few years were not a requirement for sonographers.” Saunders said. “Most healthcare institutions give new sonographers hired upon graduation a year to pass these exams. Because of this, earning their credentials quickly has become even more important than in years past, and we are very glad our students are succeeding in the exams and finding local employment.”
The DMS program consists of two majors, Cardiovascular Sonography and General Sonography, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The majors lead to an Associate of Applied Science Degree, and students who complete both receive a bachelor’s degree in the program. Saunders said she feels it is important for Rio to offer the program to potential students in the region.
“When I was working full-time in the field, we had a significant need for sonographers. Because there were no programs in the area at the time, we often had to hire from out of state, and most new hires would head closer to home after a couple years,” Saunders said. “Rio saw that need in our community and responded by creating the DMS program. Not only did this give healthcare facilities a local pool to hire from, it also provided residents of our area with a close to home quality education where they could earn a degree for a field where they could easily find a well-paying job to support their families.”
Outcome statistics for the recent graduates in the Class of 2017 will be finalized in the Fall 2018 semester. For more information on Rio’s DMS or other Allied Health programs, contact Stephanie Saunders at (740) 245-7139.