Editor’s note: This is the second in a periodic series of stories about Arkansas Tech-Ozark.
Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus is home to several unique programs of study; one however is very unique: Cardiovascular Technology.
Cardio Vascular Technology-Cardiac Sonography is a program to train students in echocardiography, which is essentially, an ultrasound of the heart. Students learn to use high-tech ultrasound machines to image the heart of adult patients.
The CVT program at Ozark is the only program in the state that offers a cardiac ultrasound only program; there is another program that you can obtain a degree in general and cardiac ultrasound, but it is a bachelor’s degree. The CVT program is unique because it is a two-year associate’s degree.
According to Kristen Wendling, the program chair of the Cardiovascular Technology program, the development of the CVT program was initiated in June of 2012 in response to requests made by regional cardiovascular departments and cardiologists in the Ozark campus service area. The first class began in August of 2013.
The CVT program is a competitive program and students are accepted in the spring, and begin the CVT classes the next fall. Wendling and the Ozark campus administration reevaluate the program each year to determine how many students will be accepted.
The program is located at Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith. Wendling said, “It is located there to allow close proximity to area health care providers. It allows us to easily visit these healthcare facilities as well as allows special lecturers to come from these facilities to speak to the students.”
“Like many college graduates, we encourage students who enter this field to be prepared to move to a different part of the state. Some of our graduates have taken positions within the River Valley, but many of our graduates have moved to other parts of the state and a few have moved out of state.
Echocardiographers are mainly found in large hospitals or cardiology clinics. Most of our graduates have fallen in love with the field and do not mind moving in order to pursue their career,” Wendling said.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that sonography as a whole will grow by 23 percent from 2010-2020 in the state of Arkansas.
Wendling said, “The program is still a very new program, but there has definitely been growth in the field in just a short amount of time.”
“Echocardiog raphy specifically requires someone who pay close attention to detail, has good hand to eye coordination, is caring, committed to their continuing education, likes a challenge and works well with a variety of people,” Wendling said.