To become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) with certification in the Neurosonology specialty, candidates must pass both the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) exam and the Neurosonology (NE) specialty exam within five years of one another. The two exams can be taken in any order and are administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
The ARDMS requires that potential exam takers prove their eligibility to take the NE specialty exam by completing application forms and submitting supporting documentation, including proof of education and qualifying clinical experience; transcripts, licenses, or certifications; and letters from supervising physicians or medical- education program officials. The ARDMS provides step-by-step guidelines and checklists for applying for, registering for, and scheduling both the NE specialty and SPI exams. Renewing or recertifying applicants are subject to different requirements.
Once an application is approved, exam candidates must pay any exam fees and schedule a date to sit the Neurosonology specialty exam at a local test center. Exam results are available online immediately following the test. To pass the exam, test takers must achieve a score of 555 or above on a scale ranging from 300 to 700. Candidates who do not pass the exam can apply to retest after 72 hours, but must wait 60 days before taking the exam again.
The Neurosonology specialty examination has 170 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within three hours. Exam topics cover applied knowledge of sonographic techniques; choosing the appropriate modality; and evaluation of the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the brain and head, including recognition of disease, defects, and trauma. Scoring for the NE exam places more emphasis on some topics over others. The breakdown of percentage-weight for each topic is as follows:
- recognition of pathology and differential diagnosis (40-50%)
- anatomy and physiology (30-40%)
- technique in neurosonography (10-20%)
- physics and instrumentation (1-5%)
- medical care of the neonate during scanning (1-3%)
Study guides and practice tests are essential tools for those preparing to take the Neurosonology specialty examination for the RDMS credential. Numerous online and print resources are available, which include content outlines, sample questions, and test-taking techniques.