Cardiac Program

Established in 1982 by Edward B. Diethrich, MD, the Arizona Heart Foundation School of Cardiac Ultrasound was the first program in the United States dedicated to the development of tomorrow’s sonographers. The program has evolved to include the ever-changing field of vascular sonography and is now known as the School of Cardiac & Vascular Ultrasound.

The comprehensive 12-month programs are offered once a year and include classroom instruction, extensive hands-on scanning experience and clinical rotations. The programs are designed for individuals currently working in the field of ultrasound or who are considering entering the profession.

Terry Reynolds, BS, RDCS, and Gail Size, BS, RPhS, RVS, RVT, FSVU, literally “Wrote the Books” for today’s cardiovascular ultrasound professionals. No other program has made comparable literary contributions to cardiovascular sonography. Kelly Gardner, BS, RDCS, RVT, is joining us this year as our vascular instructor and director of program development.

Our faculty’s expertise, coupled with small class sizes, not only prepares our students for the national registry exams but also results in graduates with a discernible difference. More than 500 highly-qualified sonographers have graduated from the program. Our graduates provide quality patient care, possess leadership positions in their profession, and dedicate themselves as life-long learners.

The Details

Start Date:
March 5th, 2018


The School has earned a strong reputation as a leader in cardiac ultrasound training for over 35 years and is licensed by the State of Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. The program is designed to meet and exceed the minimum clock hour requirements as recommended by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (“ARDMS”) and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (“CCI”).


The program offers an in-depth clinical experience that will enable students to produce accurate, high-quality echocardiographic images through classroom instruction, hands-on experience with patient models, anatomical lab opportunities, clinical rotations and internships. Students will have the opportunity to learn the distinction between normal cardiovascular anatomy and physiology, and gain an understanding of basic pathology and cardiovascular diagnostic procedures.

  • Become proficient in all aspects of adult echocardiography at an entry level position.
  • Be able to recognize common congenital heart defects.
  • Receive an integrated didactic classroom and clinical experience.
  • Prepare for the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (“SPI”) and Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography (“Adult Echo RDCS-AE”) exams conducted by the ARDMS Boards, or the Registered Cardiac Sonography (“RCS”) or Registered Vascular Specialist (RVS) exams of the CCI.

The program is 12 months, includes 1,960 clock hours, and is offered once a year. Application documentation must be complete and submitted by September 1.

Physicians may request an abbreviated curriculum.

Hours and Days of Instruction
Classroom sessions and clinical rotations will total at least 35 hours per week. Some weekend and/or evening hours may be required. Students are required to participate in TOPS screenings as scheduled and are encouraged to participate in Bates Foundation screenings.

SubjectClock Hours
Patient Care24
Introduction to Echocardiography110
Advanced Echocardiography419
Imaging Lab435
Clinical Rotation800


Students must participate in all components of the program. The School requires all students to send official transcripts from all previous education and training. The School will evaluate all previous education and training and grant credit where appropriate.

We are proud to utilize The Echocardiographer’s Pocket Reference authored by Terry Reynolds, and the Vascular Reference Guide authored by Gail Size.

  • Patient Care – This course includes an overview of medical terminology, pharmacology, basic diagnostic procedures, blood-borne pathogens, pathophysiology and infectious diseases. How to interact with patients in a clinical setting as well as the topic of professionalism will be discussed.
  • Physics – By following the ARDMS physics outline, the theory of ultrasound physics and how to apply these principles to imaging studies are discussed. Multi-media presentations are employed to present the ever-challenging ultrasound physics principles and instrumentation.
  • Introduction to Echocardiography – This comprehensive course will provide an overview of the basic principles of adult echocardiography, including the technique of performing the procedure. The standards measurements for each echocardiography discipline will be presented; normal anatomy as well as cardiac pathology will be emphasized. Each component of the cardiovascular principles examination outline will be presented. Major topics include anatomy and physiology, technique, Doppler, valvular heart disease, ischemic heart disease, diseases of the aorta, congenital heart disease, pericardial disease, hypertension, cardiomyopathies, and cardiac tumors.
  • Advanced Echocardiography – This course will be the final preparation for the registry exam. Students will have an in-depth understanding of the cardiac cycle, cardiac anatomy and physiology, standard 2-D views, M-mode and real-time measurements, Doppler calculations, pathology and stress echocardiography.
  • Advanced Echocardiography – This course will be the final preparation for the registry exam. Students will have an in-depth understanding of the cardiac cycle, cardiac anatomy and physiology, standard 2-D views, M-mode and real-time measurements, Doppler calculations, pathology and stress echocardiography.
  • Imaging Lab – This course ensures the development of the student’s scanning skills as well as the appropriate use of protocol. Students begin training in the school’s imaging lab during the first week of the program. Patient models are used exclusively in order to help students identify a variety of anatomies and indications. Students will be fully prepared to enter echo clinical rotations and perform studies independently.
  • Clinical Rotation – Student gain independence, confidence and increase their skill level under the direct supervision of expert sonographers.

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