Sonographer to RN Degree Program

Sonographer to RN Degree Program

Why should a registered Sonographer have to go to school for two or even 4 years just to be able to inject a vein (and feel protected)? A Registered Nurse can come from a variety of backgrounds including but not limited to: med surge, ICU, CCU, home health, camp nurse (yes I looked it up), geriatric nurse and even a school nurse can perform sclerotherapy without training!  They can also pick up an ultrasound probe and with 12 months on the job training, sit for a Sonography credential. A physician simply has to sign a form, attesting to the experience. A nurse needs a letter and a Sonographer needs 121 credits, WTH?


The two careers are very similar in that registered nursing and sonography can be associate but are more commonly bachelor degree programs now.  I have provided information below on the curriculum, collected by a google search. You can compare the two side by side. I actually used a BSN program and an AS program in Sonography to appease all of the nurses who may stumble upon this blog.  Don't get butt hurt, we are not trying to take over your turf, just party on the same dance floor! I have bolded the common classes (anatomy and physiology) and have italicized those that are of equal difficulty (physics and statistics). 


"There are two common drugs used in Sclerotherapy (Asclera (Polidocanol) and sodium tetradecyl sulfate or STS). Is it really necessary to take 121 college credits to understand the pharmacology of these two compounds"? 


There is only one to three classes in the entire catalog that deals with pharmacology (one in this example, basic pharmacology).  All of the other areas have nothing to do with anything remotely associated with patient care in the vein or vascular setting that is not part of a vascular or sonography program. We don't give enema's, put in catheters or suppositories, but nurses don't have to .....well yeah they do! Mad respect for those nurses in the trenches! There are 9 specific areas below that deal with Sonography specific content. Looking at these two curriculum, how is it that a Nurse can become a Sonographer but there is not a College or University in America who provides a path for the Sonographer?


Why should a Registered Sonographer have to go to 2 years of college instead of taking a course in pharmacology? What if the Sonographer has shown his or her knowledge of pharmacology in the related field (phlebology)?  The Registered Phlebology Sonographer credential is 24% pharmacology, sclerotherapy and the treatment of veins. Even with this credential proving the knowledge of the individual, it is left in the "air" weather a Sonographer (RPhS) can perform sclerotherapy. I petitioned the state of Georgia and they responded "We do not regulate rules or laws for your profession". Who does? 


Who would you want to inject your veins?  Did you know that there is no certification for sclerotherapy, nope any nurse in America can perform it without training. That is crazy! Did you know that a Sonographer has to go to school for a minimum of 2 years, yet a physician has to have ZERO training to be able to perform ultrasound?


Bachelors in Science in Nursing (BSN)

While the program you choose may be set up differently from another, what remains fairly standard are the curriculum requirements for a Bachelors degreed nurse. Generally the curriculum you’ll get in a BSN program looks similar to this:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Psychology/Anthropology
  • Statistics
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nutrition and Diet
  • Life Span
  • Basic Pharmacology/Math for Medicine
  • Community, Family, Geriatric, Psych overviews
  • Nursing Theory
  • Nursing Research

Because the BSN is a full-fledged Bachelors degree you’ll complete a number of required courses, such as English/Composition, Art, Literature, History, Physical Education, and Social Sciences.

Clinicals in the BSN encompass a wide array of patient care facilities. Advanced clinicals allow you to choose among unique environments based on your interests and possible goals in the field. For example, you might spend the first part of your degree working in a local hospital, but during the latter part of your studies you may opt to pursue a clinical experience in a long-term care facility, a public health department, a psych facility and more.

Associate Degree in Sonography (RVT)

Core ultrasound classes may be divided into pre-professional (or pre-requisite) courses and those related to the profession of sonography. While ultrasound curriculum varies from school to school, here are some examples of common courses:

Pre-professional/Pre-requisite Ultrasound Courses

  • Physics
  • Algebra/Applied Mathematics
  • Computer Technology
  • Communications/English
  • Biology (Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology)
  • Health Ethics
  • Psychology/Sociology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Professional Ultrasound Core Courses
  • Introduction to Sonography
  • Ultrasound Instrumentation
  • Ultrasound Physics
  • Sonography Patient Care
  • OB/GYN Ultrasound
  • Cardiovascular Sonography
  • Abdominal Sonography
  • Neurosonography
  • Clinical Internships and Labs

Registered Phlebology Sonographer (RPhS) Exam Matrix

  • Regulatory and Compliance Standards (e.g. OSHA, HIPAA, informed consent, medical records)
  • Medical ethics
  • Medical terminology
  • General anatomy
  • Cardiovascular anatomy and physiology (normal and abnormal)
  • Venous anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology
  • Vascular hemodynamics
  • Venous disease process and progression
  • Diagnosis and treatment of lymphatic disease
  • Basic math and statistical skills (formulas, exponents, decimals, scientific notation)
  • Basic pharmacology
  • History and physical
  • Vascular signs and symptoms
  •  Risk factors (family history, genetics)
  • CEAP classification
  • Pre- and post-treatment Basic Life Support (BLS) Safety practices for patients and staff
  • Universal precautions/infection control
  • Sterile procedure
  • Ergonomics Ultrasound physics
  • Ultrasound instrumentation
  • Ultrasound modalities (e.g., spectral Doppler, color Doppler, B-mode)
  • Vascular anomalies and normal variances Nonsurgical interventions (e.g., medications, risk factor modification)
  • Sclerotherapy (visual and ultrasoundguided) 
  • Compression therapy
  • Physical therapy Open-surgical venous procedures Minimally-invasive venous procedures
  • Thermal ablation
  • Phlebectomy Other testing modalities (e.g., CT, MR, plethysmography)
  • Exam correlation with other imaging modalities
  • Complications of venous treatment
  • Examination Matrix This examination matrix is provided to illustrate the general distribution of questions and the relative weight or emphasis given to a skill or content area on the examination.
  • Content Category Approximate Percentage of Examination

A. Maintain Information, Facility, and Safety 6%
B. Patient Diagnosis 22%
C. Performance of Diagnostic Testing 35%
D. Conservative Treatment / Therapy of Patients 9%
E. Minimally Invasive and Invasive Treatment of Patients 27%
Total 100% K

Who will be the institution to get the message?

Registered Vascular Sonographer RVT to Registered Nursing Program

Will an administrator of a nursing program have the courage to start a Sonography to RN program, or an RVT to RN program? I would love to sit down and explain all of the advantages this pathway would provide. Increasing access in rural communities, reducing costs, providing a more comprehensive treatment option especially for the vein patient and providing equity between the two fields that both have shortages and are in need of qualified individuals.  

Brian Sapp, RVT, RPhS is a dedicated vascular professional (Sonographer) who is passionate about vascular testing, vascular diagnosis and vein disease. The views published in this blog are not the views of Truffles Vein Specialists, however he does make a good point. Please leave a comment and discuss this topic while trying to respect the views of others. Thank you for visiting our blog

Write a comment

Comments: 11
  • #1

    Wilhem Conrad Roentgen (Thursday, 10 August 2017 19:12)

    all RN must not know the basic learning of how radiology technologist student how they get this far this is unfair to all of us we study this subject also in our school the basic theory of this and this is happening wt...

  • #2

    Diane (Thursday, 10 August 2017 20:51)

    Very interesting since I am getting ready to take my RPhS exam to expand my certifications. I would definitely head in this path if it was available.

  • #3

    Latasco (Thursday, 10 August 2017 22:16)

    This would be awesome. I'd love to help get this off the grounds. Let me know if I can help.

  • #4

    Angie White (Friday, 11 August 2017 02:41)

    I work in a vein clinic in the UK, but am an American sonographer (RDMS RVT). I am interested! :)

  • #5

    Julie Benefield (Friday, 11 August 2017 06:43)

    I'd be very interested in this pathway. It is definitely worth pushing for. (RDMS, RVT)

  • #6

    Nicole Czarnecki, RVT (Sunday, 13 August 2017 12:44)

    Let's get started today.

  • #7

    Kim Lambert (Friday, 18 August 2017 09:36)

    What an interesting idea. I would love to get involved .

  • #8

    Cheryl Rivero (Saturday, 17 March 2018 10:04)

    I am very interested in this transition pathway. I have a BA and am RVT and my next step is RPhS. Would love more info if this becomes an available option.

  • #9

    Amanda bowers (Wednesday, 18 July 2018 10:33)

    I’m very interested. RVS have been doing ablutions and veins for 6 yrs.

  • #10

    Barb (Friday, 09 November 2018 06:51)

    Very interested i have been in the field of phlebology 20 years sonographers have seen the complex network of veins better than anyone. We know where perforatirs lie I have visually witnessed the effects of sclerotherapy and assissted in treating thousands of patients I’ve attended conferences, purchased and read the history of scleroscants I was trained to start IVs as a radiology student. A physician trained me to perform sclerotherapy (over 6 weeks) I am RVT and RPhS A nurse who has less insight into what lies below the surface of the skin cannot be as qualified to perform sclerotherapy

  • #11

    Delaine Campbell (Monday, 30 September 2019 10:35)

    Any LPN to RN program

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