Northwest-Shoals to launch medical sonography and imaging programs this fall

MUSCLE SHOALS – Northwest-Shoals Community College was recently approved to start two new health studies programs, medical sonography and diagnostic imaging programs, during the 2019 fall semester.

The Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees and Alabama Commission on Higher Education approved the new programs during their December meetings. 

According to NW-SCC President Glenda Colagross, this is a perfect example of the college listening to the needs of its industry partners and students. “During the fall semester, we initiated a student interest survey to help determine the interest in starting these particular programs,” said Colagross. “The number of students interested in pursuing these programs was tremendous. “

The diagnostic imaging program prepares students to create images through the use of x-rays that capture images used by physicians to diagnose a variety of conditions. When students complete the program, they can work as a radiologic technologist at hospitals or clinics.

The medical sonography program prepares students to use medical ultrasound equipment that captures images. Medical sonography is commonly associated with obstetrics and the use of ultrasound imaging during pregnancy, but is also used in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. When students complete the program, they can work as a diagnostic medical sonographer at hospitals or clinics.

“We chose to start these new programs because we care about the success of our students and their impact on our area,” stated Rose Jones, NW-SCC associate dean of workforce development. “These types of high demand, high wage jobs will have a huge impact on our local healthcare providers and really diversify our health studies offerings.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of diagnostic medical sonographers is projected to grow 17 percent and radiologic technologists to grow 13 percent by 2026, which is much faster than the average of all occupations. In 2016, there were 241,700 radiologic technologist and 122,300 diagnostic medical sonography jobs in the nation. In 2017, the median pay was $65,620 per year for diagnostic medical sonographers and $60,070 per year for radiologic technologists.

At last week’s Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees meeting, the board also approved the college to purchase property (a building which previously housed Advanced Imaging Radiology, 1309 West State Street, Tuscumbia,) to house the new programs. The property is located adjacent to the NW-SCC Automotive Service Technology Center on the Shoals campus. Details on the purchase are currently being finalized.

Programs are pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. NW-SCC should receive approval by the end of February.

For more information about the NW-SCC Diagnostic Imaging and Medical Sonography programs, contact Mark Simpson at 256-331-5435 or msimpson@nwscc.edu.