SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A new program coming to the Central New York medical community will add much-needed resources and help both patients and providers.

St. Joseph’s Health is opening the School of Cardiac Sonography. The 13-month echocardiography program is the first of its kind in the region.

Students will be trained on how to use the imaging technology that helps physicians diagnose heart problems in patients.

It’s a crucial program because recruiting and retaining people in these positions has been challenging.

It’s very hard to recruit to this area and to retain in this area because the closest training programs are out in Rochester, Buffalo.

Debra Dauphinais — Program Administrator, School of Cardiac Sonography

Dauphinais has been managing the echo department at St. Joe’s for a little over three years. So, she’s seen the sonographer staffing struggle first-hand. She calls it a barrier to providing timely care to patients, which is why she believes the new school a win-win.

“We’ll be able to grow our cardiac service line and the procedures that we’re able to offer. And our volumes, we’ll be able to get patients in here faster.”

Debra Dauphinais

The echocardiogram is the first line of defense for heart disease. Training more sonographers in our region will be a game-changer for the community.

“This is the symbol of the eye for the cardiologist,” said Seyed Sadatian, an echo tech and the director of the ultrasound echocardiography program at St. Joe’s. “We need it for society and the healthcare system.”

Over the course of the first 10 weeks, students will learn the fundamentals of heart function. Then, they’ll move on to clinical hands-on experience, scanning patients.

“This career gives you the satisfaction every day, every hour. You feel you did, you were helpful to someone.”

Seyed Sadatian

Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for ARDMS or CCI certification upon completion of the program. Tuition is $24,000.

Classes for the first session start on May 3, 2021.

If you’re a health practitioner with an associate or bachelor’s degree and you’d like to apply for the program, click here.