To become a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) with certification in the Pediatric Echocardiography (PE) specialty, candidates must have appropriate medical education and clinical experience, and pass both the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) exam and the PE specialty exam administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Both exams must be successfully completed within five years of one another but can be taken in any order.
The PE specialty exam is a three-hour multiple-choice test with 150 questions, including video cases, covering applied knowledge of pediatric cardiac anatomy, physiology, congenital defects, disease, and sonographic evaluation techniques. The exam is graded on a numerical point range from 300 to 700. A result of 555 or above is a passing score.
Candidates must prove their eligibility to take the Pediatric Echocardiography 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 a supervising physician, technologist, or program director. Renewing or recertifying applicants are subject to different requirements. The ARDMS provides online guides and checklists for the application process, including how to apply for, register for, schedule, and sit both the PE specialty and SPI exams.
Once an application has been approved by the ARDMS, candidates must schedule their Pediatric Echocardiography specialty exam at a local test center and pay any 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 to reapply and 60 days to retest.
The PE specialty exam focuses on structures, functions, and defects of the heart in children, and on associated sonographic evaluation techniques. A higher percentage emphasis is placed on some topics over others. The topics and test percentages are:
- congenital pathology (40-60%)
- surgical repair, palliation, transplantation, and subsequent follow-up (10-25%)
- hemodynamics (10-15%)
- acquired pathology (5-10%)
- functional qualitative and quantitative assessment (5-10%)
- normal anatomy (5-10%)
- phases of the cardiac cycle (1-5%)
- instrumentation (1-5%)
- special procedures (1-5%)
Candidates for the Pediatric Echocardiography specialty examination for the RDCS credential can take advantage of many online and print resources, including practice tests, content outlines, study guides, and sample questions based on the actual ARDMS exam.