Concorde Blog - Mar 15, 2021
In the midst of the pandemic, the newest program at Concorde Career College Dallas continues to prepare its students for their future. The inaugural class for the Associate of Science in Cardiovascular Sonography (CVS) began in May 2020. We checked in with CVS Program Director Dr. Javaid Ajmal to learn more about what the program teaches, the difference CVS technologists can make, and what sort of personality a CVS student should bring to the table.
What Is Cardiovascular Sonography?
Cardiovascular sonography is the use of non-invasive ultrasound imaging to study the function and structure of the human heart. It is one of two primary imaging techniques students in the CVS program learn, along with electrocardiograms (EKGs, also called "heart traces").
EKGs have a long history. A London physiologist recorded the first human EKG in 1877, and by the early part of the 20th century, EKGs were being used for clinical purposes.
Echocardiograms are much newer. In fact, Dr. Ajmal notes that the first images in the U.S. were only taken in the 1960s, and that the American physician who led efforts to adopt echocardiograms, Harvey Feigenbaum, is still alive. Dr. Ajmal met Dr. Feigenbaum in 2008.
Why CVS Matters
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one American adult dies of heart disease every 36 seconds.
Cardiovascular conditions affect young people, too. The CDC reports that congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most commonly diagnosed birth defect, affecting approximately 40,000 babies born each year. Of those 40,000 babies, 10,000 will have a critical CHD which requires surgery or other invasive procedures within the first year of life.
CVS technicians play an important role in helping physicians and cardiologists understand their patients' conditions. The images and recordings they provide make effective treatment possible. Technicians can also contribute to research efforts in the field by conducting study images.
The CVS Program Format - Intensive and Hands-On
The CVS program is a 21-month, full-time associate degree program that blends virtual learning and hands-on classroom learning with extensive clinical experience. "Our students will complete over 900 hours [of clinical experience] in a variety of different clinical sites," says Dr. Ajmal.
He explains that the varied clinical placements offer students practical experience for the workplace. CVS graduates could go on to work in cardiology practices, hospitals, laboratories, chain clinics, or even mobile imaging services that travel to different sites.
What Our CVS Students Are Learning
Along with EKGs and echocardiograms, students also gain some knowledge of vascular imaging. Vascular imaging allows the examination of arteries and other parts of the circulatory system to help diagnose strokes, blood clots, embolisms and other conditions.
In addition to hands-on experience with EKGs and imaging, students study cardiac anatomy, cardiopathology, and other foundational health science concepts. They learn to write reports of their imaging sessions for physicians, monitor the various machines and equipment they will use for malfunction, and-most importantly-learn how to treat patients with respect and professionalism.
At the end of their program, Dr. Ajmal says, students complete a registry exam review. This prepares students to earn the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) credential from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography after graduation. The RDCS designation can help Concorde graduates stand out in the job market.
Who Should Apply?
The CVS program is looking to enroll more students for March and August 2021. Dr. Ajmal says there are a few key traits a prospective student should have. "First and foremost, we want a motivation or an attitude to serve patients," he explains. Students should also enjoy learning about science and be capable of paying attention to detail. "If you're a technology-oriented person, that can help, too," Dr. Ajmal adds, because CVS technology continues to evolve rapidly.
Students who are training now will be able to take part in the fight against cardiovascular disease and help improve our understanding of the human heart.
For more information about the CVS program at Concorde in Dallas, visit our CVS program page