Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Contact: Megan Archer, Alumni and Outreach Coordinator, College of Health Professions 304-696-2616

Marshall offers new sonography program

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University students now have the chance to learn a medical technique used every day in hospitals around the word.

With the collaboration between the Marshall College of Health Professions and the St. Mary’s School of Medical Imaging, a bachelor of science degree in medical imaging with an emphasis in diagnostic medical sonography will be offered to students who have completed their sophomore year in medical imaging.

Sonography, a painless medical procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce visual images of organs, tissues and blood flow inside the body, is considered interchangeable with “ultrasound” due to the use of these sound waves to create an image.

Dr. Rita Fisher, director of the St. Mary’s School of Medical Imaging, said Marshall’s program will be the only accredited bachelor’s degree program in the state that offers its students the choice to specialize in abdominal, vascular or echo sonography.

“We wanted to be able to offer all three modalities so our students can choose what truly interests them,” Fisher said. “This field is advancing because the equipment is relatively inexpensive and patients don’t have to worry about radiation exposure. In the next year, we hope to add another instructor to develop coursework with breast sonography.”

Nancy MacClellan, clinical coordinator of the sonography program, said growth is expected to continue for this profession and graduates should expect to find jobs immediately after completing the program.

“Our graduates will have opportunities for employment in hospital ultrasound departments, clinics and physicians' private offices to name a few,” MacClellan said. “St. Mary’s Medical Center is the reason why we even considered offering this degree because they are desperately in need of sonographers, so it’s a win-win for everyone. We do a lot of clinical rotations through the hospital and the sonographers there go above and beyond to make sure our students gain great experiences and become experts in their field.”

Chelsea Belcher, 20, of Peytona, W.Va., is a junior in the medical imaging program and plans to study cardiovascular sonography. Belcher will be asked to sit for her first board exam this year to ensure she will be ready for the specialty exams that will qualify her for employment upon graduation.

“Many sonographers are losing their jobs because they aren’t passing their boards. In this program, we are made to pass the physics boards before we even graduate,” Belcher said. “It makes such a difference to have people in our corner who want us to succeed. You don’t just get that anywhere.”

The St. Mary’s medical imaging program accepts 24 students a year and eight of those students will be chosen for the sonography track. For more information on enrolling in the program, contact Fisher at or MacClellan at


Photo: Since August 2013, the sonography program has been offered to selected students in the St. Mary's School of Medical Imaging. The program will graduate its first class in 2015. Pictured left to right are Grace Carter, Chelsea Belcher, Jasmine Smith, Kristen Blankenship, Crystal Bryant, Erica Browning and Tabby Price.

For further information, contact:  Office of University Communications
Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090
Fax: (304) 696-3197