To become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) with certification in the Fetal Echocardiography (FE) specialty, candidates must have appropriate medical education and clinical experience, and must pass both the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) exam and the FE exam administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The two exams can be taken in any order, but both must be successfully completed within five years of one another.
Candidates must prove their eligibility to take the FE specialty exam by completing the ARDMS application forms and submitting qualifying documentation, including proof of formal education; verification of clinical experience; transcripts and licenses; and letters from qualified clinical or educational supervisors. Applicants who are renewing or re-certifying, or who are not first-time applicants, are subject to different requirements. The ARDMS provides step-by-step outlines and checklists for how to apply for, register for, schedule, and take both the FE and SPI exams.
Once an application has been approved by the ARDMS, candidates must register for the FE specialty exam at a local test center, and pay exam or renewal fees. Exam results are available online immediately following the test. Candidates who do not pass the exam must wait a minimum of 72 hours before reapplying and 60 days before retaking the test.
The Fetal Echocardiography specialty exam is a three-hour, 150-question multiple-choice test focusing on fetal heart anatomy, physiology, disease, abnormalities, and evaluation through sonographic techniques. The exam is evaluated and assigned a numerical point value from 300 to 700; a result of 555 or above is a passing score.
The Fetal Echocardiography specialty exam tests knowledge of sonographic evaluation of the normal and abnormal fetal heart, with a higher percentage emphasis placed on some topics over others. The topics and overall test percentages are:
- structural heart anomalies (35-55%)
- standard sonographic views (10-20%)
- normal fetal heart anatomy (8-12%)
- incidence of congenital heart disease (5-10%)
- dysrhythmias (5-10%)
- normal fetal heart physiology (4-8%)
embryology, indications, acquired pathology, and timing of the fetal echocardiographic exam, each worth 1-5%
There is also a “miscellaneous” category worth 1-5% of the overall score, which includes hydrops fetalis, extracardiac anomalies, and syndromes.
There are numerous online resources and printed materials available for preparing to take the Fetal Echocardiography specialty examination for the RDMS credential, including practice tests, content outlines, study guides, sample questions, and tips on test-taking strategies.