General Sonography Option Full-time Diploma 576adipma

Overview

The BCIT Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs draw students from across the province. Our programs provide access to state-of-the-art equipment and the latest in ultrasound technology so that you are ready to start your career the moment you graduate.

Diagnostic medical sonography, commonly known as ultrasound, uses high-frequency sound waves to examine the developing fetus, abdomen, pelvis, and blood vessels. Each patient comes with unique needs and, as a student, you will learn diagnostic problem-solving and team collaboration skills to give each patient the highest quality of care.

About the program

  • Twenty-two-month, full-time Diploma program
  • Lectures and labs provide you with theory and active practice on campus
  • Thirty-three weeks of clinical experiences in BC hospitals and/or clinics

This program is in demand. Visit Program Details to learn more.

Who it's for

This program is for individuals who:

  • Take an inquisitive approach to solving problems
  • Enjoy working directly with patients and teams in a hospital environment
  • Have strong technical skills and hand-eye coordination
  • Have completed one year of post-secondary education or higher level of education
  • Are BC residents

See Program Entry to find out more about applying to BCIT's Diagnostic Medical Sonography program.

What grads can do

Diagnostic Medical Sonography grads find work soon after they graduate. Learn more about careers opportunities at Graduating and Jobs.

Program Entry

Application processing

Applications accepted November 1st* to January 5th.*

*or next business day

Note: Applicants to this program must be residents of British Columbia. This program does not accept applications from international students. View programs that do

Entrance requirements

Competitive Entry: Three-step process

The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program has a competitive selection process. Preference will be given to applicants with:

  • Post-secondary education*
  • A strong GPA*
  • A demonstrated interest in the field*
  • Related volunteer and/or work experience*

Applicants deemed to have the best opportunity for success in the program are selected to compete in the multiple mini interview process (MMI).

*Applicants with preferred entrance requirements are to submit transcripts and supporting documentation with their online application.

Step 1: Meet the following entrance requirements

With the exception of English, these entrance requirements must have been completed during the past five years from the start of the program. If more than five years have elapsed, upgrading in the required subjects may be necessary.

*Physics 12 (73%) or 3.0 credits of post-secondary physics at 100 level or higher (73%) from a recognized institution will be accepted to meet recency only if the applicant does not have Physics 11 (73%) from within the past five years.

Read more about how to meet BCIT’s entrance requirements

Step 2: Requirements for selected applicants

Shortlisted applicants will be required to complete the following:

  • Multiple Mini Interview Process (MMI)

  • Two letters of reference to be sent by the person providing the reference directly to the program

During this process, applicants will be assessed by program staff for their suitability for the program and this profession.

Note: Interviews are usually held in February and March. The Nuclear Medicine, Medical Radiography, and Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs share the MMI process and, therefore, applicants are only eligible for one MMI. The results of the MMI will be transferred between programs if the application is transferred.

Step 3: Conditionally accepted applicants

If you have been conditionally accepted to BCIT, you will be notified through myCommunication. The following will be required for full acceptance::

Once these and any other outstanding conditions have been met, you will receive notification of your full acceptance.

Clinical requirements

Note: Effective immediately, all health care workers who come into contact with patients at publicly-funded health care facilities or in the community, including at long-term-care facilities, will have to get the influenza vaccine or wear a mask during flu season. This policy affects all students who will be entering a clinical setting.

As such, you will be required to provide proof of your immunization or agree to wear a mask at all times through the flu season prior to being placed in your clinical studies.

Face Respirator Fit Testing

Respirator fit testing with a N95 respirator (1860, 1860s or 1870) is required and must be performed in accordance with CSA Standard CAN/CSA-Z94.4-02. Fit testing must also include inspection, cleaning, maintenance, and storage of protective equipment. Students will be given specific instructions on how to access fit testing by the program prior to the first clinical. Students are responsible for paying for the annual fit test while in the program and carrying their certificate with them at all times during their practicum.

Recommended for success

  • Physical and mental stamina. Applicants with a history of arm, shoulder, neck, and/or back injury should carefully consider their suitability for this career choice. Examples include but are not limited to carpel tunnel syndrome, nerve entrapment, rotator cuff tears, thoracic outlet syndrome, and spinal injury.

  • Fine motor control / manual dexterity

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Ability to:
    • visualize objects in three dimensions
    • accurately differentiate shades of grey, colors and sounds
    • work independently and in team situation
    • manage stressful and busy work environments
    • move and transfer patients from wheelchairs to stretchers and to the washroom
    • assist patients with toilet needs
    • multitask accurately and efficiently
    • problem solve in a variety of situations

Advanced Placement

Re-admission

Changing program options

  • If you were previously in the General and Cardiac Sonography Option, you may apply for re-admission into Level 2, 3, or 4 of the General Sonography Option or the Cardiac Sonography Option.

  • If you were previously in the General Sonography Option or the Cardiac Sonography Option, you may apply for re-admission into Level 2 or 3 of the General and Cardiac Sonography Option.

Apply to program

Note: Applicants to this program must be residents of British Columbia. This program does not accept applications from international students. View programs that do

The Diagnostic Medical Sonography program offers three areas of specialization:

  • General Sonography Option
  • Cardiac Sonography Option
  • General and Cardiac Sonography Option

Candidates apply to their preferred option and may indicate their second and third option choices in the online application.

BCIT accepts only complete applications. In order to apply:

  • Include proof of meeting all entrance requirements prior to submission
  • Convert all transcripts and supporting documents to PDF files
  • Have a credit card ready to pay the application fee
Apply Online

You can check the status of your application online at any time using the Student Information System.

Scheduled intakes

September each year.

myCommunication

Within two business days of submitting your completed application, BCIT will send a message to your personal and myBCIT e-mail addresses. All correspondence regarding your application will be posted to your online myCommunication account at my.bcit.ca. We'll send you an e-mail when a new message is posted. It's important to watch for these e-mails or regularly check your account online.

You can expect to receive communication concerning the status of your application within four weeks.

Costs & Supplies

Tuition fees

Please see the Fees, Payments and Refunds section of the website for information on full-time tuition fees.

Books and supplies

Level 1:  $1,150
Level 2:  $600
Level 3:  $400
Level 4:  $200

(general estimated cost, subject to change)

Face respirator fit testing: approx $35 per year, annual re-fitting required.

Financial assistance

Financial assistance may be available for this program. For more information, please contact Student Financial Aid and Awards.

Courses

Program matrix

Level 1 (15 weeks)
September – December
Credits
  BHSC 1143 Abdomen Form and Function (DSON) 3.0
  DSON 1001 Abdominal and Superficial Structures Sonography 1 3.0
  DSON 1002 Women's Health Sonography 1 3.0
  DSON 1003 Cardiac Sonography 1 3.0
  DSON 1011 General Sonography Lab 1 3.0
  DSON 1012 Cardiac Sonography Lab 1 3.0
  NURS 1186 Patient Care for Sonography 3.0
  PHYS 1073 Sonography Physics 1 3.0
 
Level 2 (20 weeks)
January – May
Credits
  BHSC 1144 Human Behaviour 1 (DSON) 3.5
  DSON 1004 Clinical Orientation 1.5
  DSON 2001 Abdominal and Superficial Structures Sonography 2 4.0
  DSON 2002 Women's Health Sonography 2 4.0
  DSON 2003 Cardiac Sonography 2 4.0
  DSON 2005 Vascular Sonography 1 2.0
  DSON 2011 General Sonography Lab 2 5.5
  DSON 2012 Cardiac Sonography Lab 2 4.0
  PHYS 2073 Sonography Physics 2 2.5
 
Level 3 (22 weeks)
July – December
Credits

Clinical (7 weeks)
July – August

  DSON 2004 Sonography Clinical 1 10.0

Academic (15 weeks)
September – December

  BHSC 2143 Pathophysiology (DSON) 3.0
  BHSC 2144 Human Behaviour 2 (DSON) 2.0
  COMM 3173 Communication for Diagnostic Sonography 2.0
  DSON 3001 Abdominal and Superficial Structures Sonography 3 3.0
  DSON 3002 Women's Health Sonography 3 3.0
  DSON 3005 Vascular Sonography 2 2.0
  DSON 3011 General Sonography Lab 3 3.0
  PHYS 3073 Sonography Physics 3 2.0
 
Level 4 (26 weeks)
January – July
Credits
  DSON 3006 Sonography Capstone 3.5
  DSON 4008 General Sonography Clinical 2 18.0
  DSON 4009 General Sonography Clinical 3 18.0
 
Total Credits: 124.5

Transfer credit

Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at BCIT? Check out BCIT's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.

Program Details

The program

The General Option of the diploma program is 22 months in length. The first year of the program includes theory, labs and clinical training in general sonography (abdomen, superficial structures, pelvis, pregnant female pelvis, carotid arteries, and peripheral veins) as well as cardiac sonography (heart). Students will specialize in general sonography starting in their second year. The sonographic specialties are supported by instruction in physical principles and instrumentation, patient care, communication, human behaviour, and research principles.

The BCIT Sonography program is accredited with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Graduates of this program are eligible to write the Sonography Canada or American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) registry examinations and to hold the professional credentials offered by both organizations.

Students are advised that travel to clinical placements at their own expense is required. Students are asked to identify site preferences, but it may not be possible to accommodate all requests. All students will be assigned to at least one placement site outside of the lower mainland (Vancouver Island, northern or interior BC). Some lower mainland students may be required to attend placements that are lengthy commutes from their homes, or difficult to access by bus, yet still considered a local placement. It may be possible for applicants with permanent residences outside of the lower mainland to access some clinical placements in their home area.

Students are expected to have access to a computer with a high-speed internet connection and a printer, and to be proficient in the use of the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel).

Program length

22 months, full-time.

Students start in September and graduate at the end of June.

Grading

All didactic courses require a mark of 65 percent to pass. Lab and clinical courses require satisfactory completion of all competencies.

Graduating & Jobs

Our graduates get work

You will graduate from the General Option ready to work in general ultrasound. Our grads have the people, academic, technical, and problem solving skills to be active members of the healthcare team. Patients and doctors rely on their expertise to give the best patient care possible.

Career opportunities

Grads primarily work in hospitals and private clinics. Careers can be found in casual, part-time, and full-time positions and many move into full-time employment within a few months of graduating. Salaries start at approximately $30 per hour in careers like:

  • Medical sonographer
  • Commercial sales
  • Research and development

Keep learning

Our grads join a community of health specialists dedicated to professional development and continuous learning.

Our students become members of Sonography Canada, a leading organization for our industry. Their annual conference provides networking and skill building opportunities that can help with career advancement.

The British Columbia Ultrasonographers' Society (BCUS) offers seminars to help diagnostic sonographers keep their skills current and stay connected with the latest news and trends in the industry.

Program Details FAQ


What are the physical requirements for a sonography career?

Sonography is a demanding profession with a number of physical requirements, including:

  • Good upper body strength, overall stamina and flexibility to manage a high level of activity throughout the workday.
  • Ability to exert constant pressure for extended periods of time
    • People with current or previous injuries/conditions limiting strength and/or endurance involving hands, arms, shoulders, neck and/or back may have difficulty managing the work requirements.
  • A high level of manual dexterity and coordination. Anyone with poor eye-hand coordination may have difficulty with these tasks. Sonographers in this program must be able to scan using either hand.
  • Good vision with the ability to distinguish subtle shades of grey
  • Ability to distinguish colours (i.e. not colour-blind)
  • Ability to distinguish sounds to ensure accurate performance of Doppler studies
  • Ability to work in a low light environment for most of the day
  • Ability to effectively manage stressful, busy environments
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Diagnostic Medical Sonography includes cardiac and general scanning. Can I choose to do just one or the other?

The program is very pleased to announce that, beginning with the September 2018 cohort, we will be now offering three options to students. Most students will complete a combined general and cardiac program similar to the existing program. Others can choose a cardiac-only or general-only option. Students will select their option at the time of program application. Please see the Program Admission FAQs and the Program Entry page for more information.

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Are the three program options completely separate?

No. All students will complete the first year of the program together. This will provide foundational information and skills that will serve the students well regardless of their chosen option. In Level 3, the start of the second year, students will stream into their specific options, which will allow them to devote time and energy to those skills. Some common courses will also occur during Level 3.

All students will commence their final clinical experiences in January of their second year. The total clinical time will vary:

  • General-only: 26 weeks
  • Cardiac-only: 26 weeks
  • General and cardiac combined: 39 weeks
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Why would I choose a single option rather than the dual?

There are several reasons:

  • Some students know they want to work in cardiac or general, and this allows them to focus on that area.
  • The level 3 course load is lighter for the single options and the clinical time is shorter.
  • Some students find it difficult to “switch” between cardiac and general scanning.
  • Some people prefer the variety of general imaging while others prefer the focus of cardiac.
  • A large number of departments offer only general or cardiac scanning, so if you choose to work there, your additional clinical time and skills will not be utilized.
  • Cardiac sonography is often performed in cardiology departments where no general scans are performed. Many of the larger, tertiary care diagnostic imaging departments perform only general studies. These specialized sites can be very rewarding in terms of diagnostic challenges and learning opportunities.
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Why would I choose a dual option rather than a single option?

There are several reasons:

  • The dual option may provide a wider range of employment opportunities.
  • Some students may prefer the variety of performing a broader range of exam types.
  • Some departments may give preference to dual trained sonographers.
  • Some students wish to gain work experience in both areas of sonography before making a final decision on their preferred area.
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If I choose a single option, can I complete the other one later?

Mechanisms for graduates to return to complete the “other” option will be developed. A key advantage of having a common first year for all students is that the additional time and effort to retrain in the other option is much shorter than for a full program. For those meeting entrance requirements, only the remaining Level 3 courses plus the necessary clinical time will be required. It is expected that the level 3 coursework will be available online, allowing graduates to complete it from home and enter a clinical in various parts of the province near to where they reside provided there is an available clinical site.

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Is there a pathway to degree completion?

The BCIT DMS program has entered into an articulation agreement with Thompson Rivers University for credits toward a Bachelor of Health Sciences. This is a distance education program that will allow you to complete your degree while continuing to work.

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What are the workload requirements of the program?

The program schedule requires attending approximately 25 hours of classes/ labs or 35 hours of clinical each week. Expect several hours of homework and preparation each evening. You will also need to plan time for library research and group work.

This is a very demanding program. Working at a job during the school year is not recommended. Any work hours must accommodate class, lab and clinical hours.

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Can I do this program part time or online?

The program is offered only in a full-time program format commencing each September. Students complete the program as a cohort, based out of the BCIT Burnaby campus. Should you need to leave the program for any reason, you will be required to re-apply. Some online courses are administered duringportions of the program.

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Are there any breaks in the program?

In addition to Christmas and spring breaks, there is an six-week vacation in June-July after the first year for all students, and a seven-week vacation in the summer of the second year for dual option students.

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Where will my clinical placements be located?

The BCIT Diagnostic Medical Sonography program arranges clinical training for the students. In order to attain a well-rounded clinical experience, students can expect to be placed in 4-8 different clinical sites during the program. Some of these clinical rotations will be outside of the lower mainland. Students will be requested to provide their preferences for out-of-town clinical placements, but there is no guarantee that they will be assigned to one of their preferences. Training sites are located in all parts of the province and students are responsible for arranging their own accommodation and transportation. Note: Student learning during clinical training is supported by BCIT via Desire2Learn (D2L). Students will require internet access other than that at the clinical site.

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What is scheduling like for clinical portions of the program?

Clinical experiences have historically been comprised of regular 8 hour days Monday-Friday; however, as the hours of sonography departments extend, students will likely be expected to work some afternoon shifts or weekend days as required.

Clinical term 1 occurs in early July to late August of the first year. This 7 week clinical may occur at one site or may be divided between 2-3 sites to assure a well-balanced experience.

Clinical terms 2, 3 and 4 occur in the final year of the program. Each rotation is 13 weeks in length and spans January through June for single option students followed by a rotation late August through November for dual option students. In order to assure an adequate variety of clinical experiences, each of these terms is divided into 2 distinct rotations of 6-7 weeks in length. Students are expected to attend two of these rotations in a site outside of the lower mainland.

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Am I responsible for costs throughout clinical placement?

Students are responsible for all personal expenses, including food, accommodation and transportation throughout the clinical experiences. No stipend is available for any portion of the program.

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Will I need to have use of a car?

Student clinical placements occur in a variety of hospitals and clinics throughout the lower mainland as well as in other parts of the province. Students move through a variety of sites over the program and many of these sites may not have access by public transit. Each student is responsible for arranging his or her own transportation. The program can’t consider transit in created the clinical assignments.

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Program Admission FAQs


When do I have to choose my option?

Applicants must choose their option at the time of application. Applicants are requested to provide a second and possible third choice. In the event that their preferred option has no remaining capacity, they may be offered a seat in another option.

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Why do I have to choose my option when I apply?

Because the clinical spaces for each option are limited, the numbers of students in each option must be set at the start of the program. This will prevent any of the options from being over-requested which could result in students being placed in an undesired option later in the program.

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Can I change options during the program?

Changing options is unlikely and will be possible only in the event that a space opens up in another option. However, because the first year of the program is common, single option students could potentially return to complete the other option following graduation.

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How can I make my application more competitive?

Admission to the program is highly competitive. In addition to completing all of the prerequisites, successful applicants typically have the following profile:

  • Post-secondary education with a focus on human anatomy and physiology and/or health. Physics courses are also an asset. Many successful applicants have university degrees.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage a full course load at the post-secondary level
  • Strong, consistent academic performance
  • Job experience in a fast-paced customer or patient related area
  • Volunteering or work in a patient environment that includes hands-on physical care of elderly or ill patients/clients. Extracurricular activities such as team sports are also an asset.
  • Demonstration of a clear understanding of the profession and the program
  • Excellent communication skills

The questionnaire that is included with the application should exhibit thoughtful, articulate answers to all questions, as these are carefully reviewed in the selection of candidates for interview.

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How competitive is the program, and is there a waitlist?

We typically receive 250 to 350 applications. Currently, we accept 32 students into the program. Historically, we have invited 80-100 students to participate in the second stage of the selection process. Acceptance into the program is based on the ranked score achieved during the selection process. Some applicants who are not among the top 32 will be placed on a waitlist for the current intake in the event that a seat becomes available. The waitlist is cleared once the program intake is full and the first program term has commenced; unsuccessful applicants must re-apply to be considered for next year.

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Can I apply to the program while I’m working on meeting the prerequisites, or do I need to wait until all are complete?

You can only apply when you have fully met the academic requirements. An exception can be made if you are in the process of completing prerequisite courses and can submit interim reports which show you have completed a minimum of 50% of the course work at the time that you apply. However, please be aware that the program is very competitive and preference will be given to applicants who have completed all of their prerequisites prior to the application closing date.

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What if I have the prerequisites but they are from more than five years ago?

With the exception of English, prerequisite courses must have been completed within five years from the start date of the program. Admissions will assess post-secondary transcripts for equivalent courses to determine if they meet recency and relevant letter grade requirements. If your course work is not within the 5 year period, you have the option to either write challenge exams or to complete upgrading courses through BCIT, your local school district or post-secondary institution. Challenge exams exist for Biology, Math, and Physics.

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I did not receive a ‘B’ in English 12. Will my post-secondary English marks be considered?

Admissions will assess post-secondary transcripts for courses that fulfill the English language proficiency requirement.

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What if I write challenge exams and do not achieve the relevant grade?

You will have only one opportunity to write each challenge exam. If you are unsuccessful, you must take an upgrading course to meet prerequisites.

Upgrading can be completed through BCIT, your local school district or other post-secondary institutions.

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Do you consider GPA within the selection process?

Preference will be given to applicants with a strong GPA, post-secondary education, a demonstrated interest in the field, and related volunteer/work experience. It is important that transcripts demonstrate an aptitude for success in past academic courses.

The program selects from a large pool of complete applications only those candidates deemed to have the best opportunity for success. Meeting minimum entrance requirements and having a high GPA does not guarantee you will be selected for the second, Multiple-Mini Interview (MMI), stage of the competitive entry process.

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What can I do to prepare myself for success in the selection process?

The program looks for well-rounded individuals who will be successful as students and as future diagnostic medical sonographers. Ensure that you have researched what it means to be a sonographer and are aware the scope of the work involved.

If you are invited to interview, be prepared for a formal MMI interview process. All interviews will take place on campus. Only a portion of interviewees are then selected for admission to the program.

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I have met all prerequisites for the program. What post-secondary courses can you recommend to support my success in the selection process and in the program?

Post-secondary health-related courses and those in human anatomy and physiology, pathology and physics will strengthen your application and would support your overall success in the program. Be aware that many successful applicants have completed university degrees, so post-secondary education is an important factor.

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Can I apply for transfer credit for my college/university courses?

Most courses are program specific. Typically only patient care and communication courses will be considered. If you feel you have completed courses equivalent to the Sonography program courses, you may apply for individual transfer credit within the first two weeks of the program start. Please note: If individual course transfer credit is granted, this will not reduce your tuition or the duration of the program; it will only reduce your course load.

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The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the College and Institute Act (RSBC 1996, Ch.52). BCIT will use this information to communicate with you regarding relevant BCIT programs, courses and services. This information is only used by authorized BCIT staff. Email communication sent to and from BCIT is routed through the United States of America. If you have any questions about BCIT's collection and use of this information, please contact BCIT’s manager of Information Access and Privacy.

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