Medical Sonography Student Issues

While a sonogram in pregnancy is perhaps the best-known use of ultrasound technology, medical sonography helps to diagnose numerous conditions. From detecting cancer to identifying musculoskeletal issues, medical sonography assists in a wide range of ailments.

Sonographers can have either a bachelor's or associate degree. Although not all states require a formal license to practice medical sonography, passing a certification exam will make you more appealing to potential employers. Medical sonography is an in-demand field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an almost 20 percent increase in available jobs between 2020 and 2030.

If you're pursuing a degree in medical sonography, you've picked a career with ample opportunities and better-than-average job security. That's why it's important to understand the issues that you could face as a student and how to deal with them so they don't derail your plans.

Most medical programs have both academic and professional standards for students and faculty. These codes are sometimes based on recommendations or model codes from professional organizations or other accrediting organizations.

Some schools will require that students sign pledges to uphold these policies. Even if your college or university does not require agreeing to a pledge, knowing what the school expects from members of its community can help you avoid issues or, if you do face allegations or problems, how to defend against them.

Academic Issues

Honor codes are common at most colleges and universities. They generally require that students adhere to honesty in their academic work. Some common prohibitions in honor codes include:

  • Cheating
  • Borrowing others' work
  • Doing another student's work
  • Plagiarism

In short, any other behavior that could be classified as academic misconduct is usually considered a violation of the honor code. If you're unsure whether you've violated your school's policies, check with a member of the faculty or your advisor right away.

Academic misconduct can occur unintentionally or with innocent intentions. You may inadvertently copy a passage from a source without giving proper credit. You may lend notes to another student without realizing they will pass them off as their own work product. In some cases, jealousy or competition—especially in programs that rank students—can lead to a false accusation of academic misconduct.

Handling Accusations

If you've been accused of academic misconduct, don't avoid the issue. Schools often have deadlines for responding, and silence on your part may be viewed as a tacit admission. Check your school's honor code or student handbook for its policies. Seek to understand the nature of the charges against you with as much detail as possible, and find out the steps you need to take to address them.

If, for example, the accusations are because your assignment is remarkably similar to another student's, provide evidence that you completed the project first or that the two of you talked about the assignment.

Alternatively, if you did engage in misconduct, you want to find ways to mitigate the charges against you. If you neglected to properly cite sources, talk to your professor to see if you can revise the assignment.

Even a single allegation of academic misconduct can potentially derail your career. Most schools have policies allowing for disciplinary actions ranging from a written warning to dismissal. Failure to address these charges may result in the school unilaterally deciding on charges. Don't shrug off even a small accusation against you: Such charges may call into question your professionalism and ability to work in the medical field.


Medical care is a service to society, and medical professionals, including sonographers, often work with patients confronting serious injuries or illnesses. Ensuring that the public trusts medical professionals is important, as is abiding by HIPAA. This is why medical programs, including those focused on sonography, have professional standards and ethics codes.

The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography is the largest organization for sonography professionals in the world. They publish a Code of Ethics for practicing sonographers. Some highlights of this code include guidelines on promoting:

  • Patient well being
  • Competent practice
  • Societal trust and professional integrity

Becoming certified by an organization such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography is one way in which to show your commitment to the professional and ethical practice of sonography. Both of these organizations offer continuing education and other resources to both students and professionals.

Codes of Ethics

Professionalism is acting in a manner that reflects the profession's highest ethics. While the specifics may differ between schools, some common examples of behavior cited in a professionalism code include:

  • Abiding by the profession's ethical code, including those espoused by governing organizations
  • Maintaining patient privacy, unless given permission by a patient to share information or when required by law to disclose
  • Staying up-to-date on current techniques and research
  • Respecting patient's wishes, even if in conflict with your own beliefs
  • Avoiding misuse of university and facility resources
  • Only claiming degrees and certifications you've earned
  • Advertising services in a clear and honest manner
  • Respect for members of the university community

Some schools also include service as one of their tenets of professionalism. This is to encourage students to assist in clinics or otherwise establish a habit of offering medical aid and services to those who would otherwise not be able to access medical care.

Bellin College is one of the country's top sonography programs. Bellin's student handbook provides a good example of the standards at most schools. Their guide not only highlights acceptable behaviors but also sets the expectation that students should learn how to recognize ethical behavior. This includes knowing how to address any issues or protocols that fall short of expectations.

Duty to Report

Another common requirement at colleges and universities is a duty to report. At many schools, failure to report witnessing or learning about unethical activity is in itself a violation of policy. You should know if your school has a duty to report, including what is required for reporting and the timeframe in which to report.

For example, your university may require that you report any witnessed misconduct via a written form within five days. You witness unethical behavior but are unaware of your school's policy and do not report the matter. If someone else files a report and names you as a witness to the events, that you were unaware of this policy will not be a defense.

Professionalism often encompasses behavior and actions both on and off campus. Some breaches of professionalism codes can result in disciplinary action, even if a student or faculty member was not on campus or acting in their capacity as a member of the university community.


Failure to follow policies relating to ethics and professionalism can result in disciplinary action. Although each school governs its own disciplinary process, most follow a similar sequence of events.

Most schools have a board or commitment that investigates allegations of misconduct. Some of these boards are selected to serve one- or two-year terms. Others assemble a different group for each investigation. Avoiding any conflict of interest between members of the committee and each complaint is an almost universal requirement.

After receiving a written complaint, that group will begin an investigation into allegations of misconduct. Following the investigation, they will either dismiss the complaint, schedule a hearing, or, in some cases, refer it to a more appropriate authority.

For example, if a complaint involves sexual harassment, it is often referred to a different department (see below for more on Title IX allegations). Other schools divide complaints between academic and ethical misconduct with dedicated committees for both. Knowing how your school handles a complaint is important to guarantee you receive due process.

You will often be able to enlist the help of a member of the staff or faculty to act as an advisor to guide you through the process. While these school-provided advisors can be helpful, hiring outside counsel is often more beneficial. A legal advisor can better navigate the situation and is completely independent of the school. Their entire focus will be on assisting you.

Hearings are an opportunity for you to present evidence, including witnesses, that either disprove or mitigate the claims made against you. Even if you did engage in inappropriate conduct, you may have had reasons for acting as you did. You need to provide that explanation to help reduce any actions taken against you.

Decisions and Appeals

Committees generally hand down their decisions within a two-week period. They will either dismiss the charges or find a violation did occur.

If they believe the charges have merit, they will also determine what disciplinary action, if any, will be taken. These committees generally have considerable leeway in determining punishment, ranging from written warnings to dismissal. If you disagree with their decision, you have the right to appeal within a certain number of days.

Throughout the process, you should respond promptly and ask for clarification as needed. If you need to reschedule the hiring, make the request as early as possible. Do not simply fail to appear: This can result in the hearing committee deciding the case without your input and often bars your ability to appeal.

Your own school's policies may differ from this example. Know your own school's policies in order to mount the best defense and improve your chances of limiting the damage to your education and future career.

Title IX

Allegations of sexual harassment and abuse fall under Title IX, which ties federal funds to compliance. Given the trust that patients place in medical sonographers, an allegation of sexual misconduct could effectively end your career before it even starts. Even if you think an allegation is silly or without merit, you need to take it seriously for the sole reason that it can negatively impact your reputation and future career.

Sexual misconduct allegations are often complicated, especially those that occur between two individuals with no witnesses. Hiring an attorney experienced in defending against these allegations at a college or university can help you minimize any damage these charges could do to your reputation.


Like other fields of medicine, studying sonography requires taking courses that require a considerable commitment of both time and effort. Falling behind or struggling with coursework is not uncommon but can affect your future employment prospects.

Remediation is the process of assisting students who are failing to meet school standards. It may involve poor coursework, failure to meet practical and clinical standards, or even a lack of professionalism. The goal of remediation is to assist a student and get them back on track.

Each school follows its own policies and procedures for remediation. Most medical programs provide students with clear benchmarks and requirements in order to complete each year and graduate. Some have committees that review student progress, including referring students for additional assistance as needed. Other schools may encourage faculty to recommend students for additional support.

Again, it's important to know your school's specific policies. What a committee or faculty member recommends may not be the best option for you. Knowing what other options you have may help you find a better choice. Likewise, if you're struggling and are not being referred for additional help, you can only advocate for support if you know what opportunities are available to you.

When done properly, remediation is an important tool. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness but instead proof of your commitment to succeed. What a committee or faculty member suggests may not address your issues or may not solve any underlying problems. Hiring a legal advisor can help you navigate this process and improve the likelihood of getting the support you need to enable you to work as a medical sonographer.

Get the Legal Support You Deserve

The consequences of accusations of academic or professional misconduct are serious. At worst, you face dismissal, which effectively ends your planned career as a medical sonographer. The medical community is small, though, and even a minor accusation can affect your professional reputation among your peers.

You need to respond quickly when addressing any allegations against you. That there may be some truth to them is all the more reason you need to defend yourself. Even if you did violate a policy, you might still be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento has years of experience working with allied health students, including those in medical sonography, who need help challenging allegations. As professionals who specialize in student discipline defense, the Lento Law Firm knows what's at stake and will help you achieve a favorable outcome.

Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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