1. Will I be a
"qualified" diagnostic medical sonographer if I take these correspondence courses?
At the present time, there is no broad legal or professional definition for a qualified diagnostic medical
sonographer although this domain is gradually changing. Unlike medicine, nursing, or radiation technology,
which are well established and regulated by the medical community and governments, the standards for training
and practice in diagnostic ultrasound have not yet been regulated or legislated in most jurisdictions.
Although there are no legal regulations regarding who can and cannot work in ultrasound, the "established norm"
for the majority of employers (in Canada and the USA) is to hire or seek sonographers that are registered or
registry-eligible. Currently, both sonographers graduating from accredited and unaccredited formal training
programs, and sonographers with informal training are eligible to take registry or certification examinations
and receive credentials providing they meet specific defined minimum educational and clinical prerequisites.
Eligibility prerequisites change periodically therefore it is incumbent on the individual seeking certification
status to be properly informed and keep abreast of registry examination regulations. Informally trained sonographers
may take Burwin courses to meet registry ultrasound education credit hour requirements however the individual must
be eligible to take the registry examinations under one of the application prerequisites. In addition, sonographers
with informal training must also meet minimum clinical experience requirements as defined by the registry. The
required minimum clinical experience varies from 12 months to 24 months full time equivalent depending on a
candidate’s educational background.
2. Who is eligible to take
ultrasound registry examinations?
Go to the ARDMS website
and choose Applicants and Exam Prerequisites. Contact the ARDMS if you have any questions about your eligibility.
3. May I enrol in more than one correspondence
course at a time?
Yes. There is no official limitation set for the number of courses you can take at a time.
Of course, a practical limitation is the time you have available to take the courses.
On average, there are four assignments to complete per course (approximately one assignment
every three weeks) and a final examination to take at the end of the course. The course generally
extends over a three and one half month period from the time course materials are received.
4. May I take these courses if I am not presently
working in ultrasound?
Yes. Although these courses were initially developed for experienced sonographers to prepare for
the board certification examinations, they are also appropriate for other health care providers
(e.g. radiographer, nuclear medicine technologist, respiratory therapist, registered nurse,
laboratory technologist) who would like to learn the theory and applications of diagnostic
ultrasound. The learning objectives and curricula of these courses are similar to courses
taken by students in formal training programs. To become clinically skilled and competent
at performing ultrasound studies, a sonographer must acquire practical experience under the
guidance and supervision of a registered sonographer or qualified sonologist (physician with
ultrasound experience and skills).
5. Some courses are organized into Part 1
and Part 2. Can I take Part 1 and Part 2 at the same time?
You may enrol and start Part 1 and Part 2 of a two-part course at the same time however you
may not enrol in Part 2 of a course without also enrolling in Part 1 unless the instructor
or the school authorizes you to do so.
6. If I enrol in more than one course, do I take the final course
examinations on the same day?
Usually not. A student must make arrangements with an invigilator as to the time and place to
write the exams on the scheduled day. Procedures and details for the invigilator are outlined in
the course registration package.
7. What is an invigilator?
An invigilator is a person who accepts the responsibility of receiving, supervising and returning the final examination.
8. Who can serve as my invigilator?
This person may be a supervisor, department head, physician, hospital or public librarian,
instructor etc. An invigilator may not be a peer, e.g. nurse, x-ray tech, or sonographer
in an non-authoritative position over you; a close relative, e.g. spouse, uncle; or a non professional,
9. What are my invigilator's responsibilities?
Your invigilator is responsible for receiving the examination and ensuring its security before,
during and after it is taken. This is a closed book examination. The examination must not be seen
by the student prior to taking the examination.
10. When will the examination be sent to my invigilator?
The final examination will be sent to your invigilator once we have received your final assignment.
You should find an invigilator in the first month of the term and return the information with one of
11. What happens if I decide not to take the examination and my
invigilator has already received the examination?
You must instruct your invigilator to return the examination unopened to The Burwin Institute.
12. Do I complete a separate invigilator form for each
course if I'm enrolled in more than one course?
Yes. An invigilator form is included in each course and must be completed for each course even if the
same person is the invigilator for all the courses you are enrolled in.
13. Do I have to take the final course examination?
No. If you are taking the course for continuing education credits, you do not have to take the
final examination. To qualify for continuing education credits you must complete the course
assignments. To receive a course certificate from The Burwin Institute, you must complete all
assignments, take the final examination, and obtain a minimum passing grade of 70%. For two-part
courses (Abdomen, Neurosonology), you must get a passing grade in both parts. To receive a Burwin
course certificate for Obstetrics & Gynecology, you must get a passing grade in both courses.
14. Can I take the final examination on a date other
than the date indicated on the Assignment Schedule?
You may take the final examination on an alternate date only if personal illness or unavoidable
circumstances prevent you from taking the examination on the scheduled date or if the invigilator
of choice is unavailable on the scheduled examination date. If necessary, the alternate examination
date should be within five calendar days of the scheduled examination date (before or after).
For example, if the scheduled examination date is December 7th, an alternate examination date
between December 2 and December 12. Please notify us in writing, by phone or by fax if circumstances
require you to take the examination on a alternate date. We ask that all students make a sincere
effort to take the final examination on the scheduled date.
15. When can I expect to receive my course results?
You can expect to receive your course results by mail about two weeks after we receive your
final examination. If you get a passing grade, you will also get a Burwin Institute course certificate.
16. What happens to the final examination?
You keep the examination. The completed answer sheet is returned to Burwin by the invigilator
immediately after it is taken. You are able to determine from the returned examination answer
sheet which questions you answered incorrectly. Direct your attention to question topics which
you answered incorrectly. However, for effective registry preparation, all topics should be
studied as broadly as possible. Many different questions can be asked about any topic. If you
understand a topic well, you should be able to answer any question on the topic. You should not
study a topic by memorizing test or examination questions. Some individuals are so dependent on
studying this way, they end up with tunnel vision and cannot answer a question correctly about
the topic unless the question is identical to the question they memorized. The chance that a
registry question be identical is, of course, very remote. If you get a question wrong on the
examination, review the topic related to that question, and test yourself with the assignment
questions relating to the topic.
17. Who pays the mailing costs for returning the
examination materials to Burwin?
The student is responsible for the cost of returning the examination answer sheet.
The examination answer sheet should be returned by regular mail or may be faxed for quicker results.
18. What is the consequence of being late
or falling behind with assignments?
The assignment schedule is provided as a guideline and is flexible. We expect students to honor the due
dates however, there is no penalty for being late. You should try to complete your final assignment by
the due date, as all assignments have to be returned before the final examination is taken. Plan to work
through the course on a regular basis. Sporadic study habits are not good for effective learning. The final
examination is sent to your invigilator as soon as we receive your final assignment. The examination is not
sent to your invigilator if you have not returned all assignments even though you may have provided us with
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