Is Wolf River Diagnostic Learning Center (WRDLC) accredited? No. Allow us to shed some light on what this truly means for vocational and/or post-graduate schools. A new school must operate successfully for an average of two years before they can qualify for accreditation from a private accrediting body. It is not government accreditation. The U.S. government does not accredit schools. The only recognize and list them in a registry. Accrediting bodies are non-profit or for-profit non-government organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Not all accrediting agencies are recognized by the government. This recognition, along with their authorization, allows schools to offer Title IV funding, or more commonly known as government financial aid or FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
If a student holds a bachelor’s degree, they do not qualify for FASFA under the Title IV guidelines of the US Department of Education for certificate or diploma programs such as post-graduate certificates. Institutions not offering degrees above a bachelor’s degree may not seek accreditation unless they assume other benefits from being accredited.
What is the true cause of the confusion?
Some ultrasound schools offer programs to most everyone, even those who do not have a bachelor’s degree or two-year allied health degree. This means that a person without prior education can attend a school that offers a degree or certificate in ultrasound. The latter approach, although not illegal, causes problems for students trying to become registered through the ARDMS (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers). For these students, they must work one year, full-time, with pay, to be certification eligible.
The trend has become that most ultrasound facilities do not hire entry-level, non-certification eligible ultrasound technologists; the complaints of these unfortunate students are numerous. There was a time when the ultrasound market would accept new graduates with the expectation they become certified within one year of hire. The market has shifted because of Medicare/Medicaid policies offering medical reimbursement require that all techs be certified.
At WRDLC, we accept students with a bachelor’s degree or two-year allied health degree, therefore having graduated from an accredited institution. In other words, students bring their accredited education to us for qualification into the WRDLC program. Upon completion of this program, graduates can apply to take the ARDMS registry examination(s). Note: The SPI can be taken before graduation upon successful completion of an SPI preparatory course.
Why do so many places advise students to only join an accredited school?
To qualify for the ARDMS prerequisite number 2 you must have attended an accredited ultrasound school "recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), United States Department of Education (USDOE) or Canadian Medical Association (CMA)/Canadian Health Standards Organization (HSO), that specifically conducts programmatic accreditation for diagnostic medical sonography/ diagnostic cardiac sonography/vascular technology. Currently, the only organizations that offer programmatic accreditation under the aforementioned associations are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) /Canadian Health Standards Organization (HSO)". That is the only ARDMS prerequisite that mentions CAAHEP accreditation. The ARDMS has eleven prerequisites in total. WRDLC enrolls students who qualify to apply under the ARDMS prerequisite 1 or 3A.
Across the United States, there are ultrasound programs that offer certificates, diplomas, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and I even heard of a school providing a master’s degree program in diagnostic medical sonography at some point (although I believe this program has since retired). No matter the route to becoming a sonographer, the entry-level pay is the same.
This broad spectrum of degrees is somewhat arbitrary since all entry-level sonographers, regardless of the credential they hold, get the same entry-level wages and all graduates need to be certified or certified-eligible to gain employment without difficulty. Hospitals and clinics should be cautious asking candidates for credentials during interviews according to the U.S. Department of Education employment guideline suggestions. How you obtained your education is your prerogative.
How does this program compare to other schools?
This program was created to ensure students have control over their education. Ultrasound Technology is a highly autonomous career and requires many skills and vast knowledge in many areas, especially the psychomotor, muscle-memory skills to be good at holding the transducer and scanning effectively. Everyone needs a different amount of time to acquire this technique, and it's highly personal. You can not expect every student to achieve this goal in the same amount of time. Moreover, this career is not as easy as it looks. Sometimes, it takes the most academically successful students more time to learn optimal scanning techniques, comprehension and memory of the anatomy, pathology, and anomalies and how they look with ultrasound technology than allowed in traditional ultrasound programs with time limits.
This program allows you to repeat courses at no additional cost, extend your laboratory practice hours, and lengthen your stay at a hospital or clinic during your externship rotation to gain the confidence and skills necessary to be a competitive ultrasound technologist. You must be able to offer the best examinations to the community-at-large and communicate effectively to physicians about your professional opinion of the results. Students take ownership of when they graduate and only when they are ready to work independently in the field. WRDLC does not charge to repeat course modules.
Well-known accrediting bodies in this arena have policies that would not allow students to be treated differently. Therefore, we offer out-of-the-box programs for students to excel by getting the time they need.
The WRDLC program approaches ultrasound as an art and a skill, as it was meant to be. This profession relies on the technologist to gather the images to interpret findings. A student’s psychomotor skills are refined and/or developed and pushed to the limits. Like an artist learning brush strokes, an ultrasound technologist learns scanning techniques and machine operations to create a great image concerning the patient’s findings; both on and off the screen. Students will be prepared to take the ARDMS examinations upon successful completion of this program.