Licensure for Cardiac Sonography

Just like the changes that have gone on in the field of nursing, there are changes coming to the field of sonography. Currently sonographers have certifications which are proof of their competency and educational background. The field requires an ultrasound physics certification which is referred to as the SPI (sonography principles and instrumentation). Following this universal requirement for sonographers, they need to specialize within whichever field of practice they want to work in. In my case this refers to the RCS (Registered Cardiac Sonographer) exam.

According to the American Society of Echocardiography, there is a current movement which is pushing for cardiac sonographers to obtain a license. Currently there are only two states which are requesting the license. These are New Mexico and Oregon. It is projected that more states are to come.

When hearing this it may make sense intuitively but within the field of healthcare a license is typically only held by professionals who handle or dispense medications. This is a role which does not include sonographers and has led to some debate as to whether the license is something that makes sense for the profession. It will be interesting to see how this license concept progresses in other states. Currently the distinction for licensed cardiac sonographers is that it is required to perform stress echoes in the states which desire it. The increased risk during stress echoes and the need for a highly proficient sonographer to be able to obtain the required images before the patient’s heart rate falls below the 85% max heart rate threshold makes sense to try to minimize the number of studies which are non-diagnostic or falsely negative.

Only time will tell how this progresses and whether it is implemented in other states.

John Groves

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