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Mohawk College’s diagnostic Cardiac Sonography Program launched with its first full-time cohort in 2000 and remains the only such graduate certificate program in Canada.

Cardiac sonography is a subset of radiation sciences that is dedicated to one complex, critical organ. The program, offered at Mohawk‘s Institute for Applied Health Sciences at McMaster, provides a highly specialized, in-demand skill set to treat a population that is aging and experiencing a high incidence of heart disease, said Wendy Lawson, Associate Dean of Applied Health at Mohawk.

“It’s something that Mohawk is very proud of, to be the only such dedicated program in the country and that our graduates have excellent reputations in the field. There is a real need in the labour market and tremendous demand for cardiac sonographers.”

Cardiac sonography is a fast and non-invasive diagnostic tool to evaluate heart function, structure and blood flow in patients in which there is suspected to have been a cardiac event or heart disease or another systemic disease affecting the heart. Cardiac sonography, with the test result evaluated by a cardiologist, leads the way to the best treatment.

“Cardiac sonography provides images of the heart, a moving, highly dynamic organ, and the diagnostic ability of it is really quite amazing,” said Jennifer Lisac, Program Coordinator for the Cardiac Sonography Program and a graduate of the program.

Mohawk recently invested in two new high-fidelity training simulators that provide cuttingedge experiential learning to students, including complex case studies and sometimes difficult patients. Tough scenarios aren’t possible to simulate when 23 students are practising their skills on each other, said Lisac.

The condensed program is four semesters over 15 months, combining classroom and online learning with two semesters of clinical rotations. The program accepts 40 students, allowing for a low instructor-to-student ratio.

Graduates write a national accreditation exam and as of January 2018, sonographers are registered health professionals in Ontario. More than 95 per cent of program graduates are working in the field.

“If you are considering becoming a cardiac sonographer, Mohawk is the place to do it. The investment that they make in their staff, facilities and equipment is second to none,” said Jason Michalakos, who graduated in 2007 and works as a cardiology clinical specialist for Philips Healthcare.

Kenneth Szeto, who graduated in 2017, says extra-curricular learning events and career guidance were invaluable and he landed a job immediately after graduation.

“The program offered both the necessary theoretical knowledge and the dexterous hands-on skills required to succeed in the career. The professors were passionate in their lectures and offered tremendous support after hours.”

Demand for cardiac sonographers will only grow locally, nationally and internationally, says Lawson. Because the tools are portable and cost effective, they are ideal for remote locations.

Lisac and her colleagues are deeply involved with an Albertabased project to teach health professionals in Guyana to use cardiac sonography. Mohawk College is a partner, providing travel, equipment, medical supplies and textbooks and many program faculty and graduates have volunteered their time.

“There are many passionate advocates of the profession here at Mohawk and they’ve invested a lot of themselves in this project.”