Concordia University, St. Paul Collaborates with Allina Health to Launch Degree Program for Echocardiography

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New partnership to help medical community meet increasing demand for cardiac testing amid shortage of qualified echocardiography professionals

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Concordia University, St. Paul

"CSP’s partnership with Allina Health provides one of the best training opportunities for cardiac sonography students,” - Dr. Katie Fischer, Dean of the College of Health and Science, CSP.

Concordia University, St. Paul (CSP) has entered a partnership with Minneapolis-based Allina Health to help develop and launch a new degree program in echocardiography. CSP will collaborate with Allina Health on curriculum development, instruction, and staffing for the new program. Students will be able to earn an Associates in Applied Science in Echocardiography at the conclusion of this two-year program. CSP launched the program with its first cohort of students during the current spring semester, with new cohorts starting each fall semester thereafter.

The two-year program will provide significant real world learning opportunities with students doing clinical learning at Allina Health facilities alongside experienced cardiac sonographers and other medical personnel on site. Students will also have extensive classroom and online learning experiences to prepare them for their medical careers.

“CSP’s partnership with Allina Health provides one of the best training opportunities for cardiac sonography students,” Dean of the College of Health and Science, Dr. Katie Fischer said. “This unique program blends the strong emphasis on clinical experience starting in a student’s first semester in the program. Students will be able to apply the content learned in the classroom and scan labs to real clinical practice, making their educational experience extremely relevant and real for their chosen profession.”

“This partnership is ideal for a cardiac sonographer to gain hands-on experience from day one into the program,” said DMS program chair Jennifer Zafke (MS, RDMS). “In addition, the two-year Associates program can quickly prepare them for rewarding careers in the medical field with a specialty that is expected to expand for years to come. Working with Allina Health on everything from curriculum to clinicals creates a powerful, rewarding learning opportunity.”    

“Echocardiography is a fascinating field,” said Heidi Goblirsch, Clinical Program Coordinator and Echocardiography Supervisor at United Hospital, part of Allina Health. “This non-invasive exam provides the cardiology team information on a patient’s heart chamber size and function, valvular structure and strength and the veins and arteries leading to and from the heart. We work closely with patients and cardiologists to obtain information needed in helping diagnose their cardiac concern. Cardiac sonographers have an in-depth understanding of the cardiovascular system and how it relates to the rest of the body. This clinic-based training program allows for emphasis on understanding the entire cardiovascular system while highlighting the importance of quality patient care.”

“Echocardiography is an essential cornerstone of cardiac health diagnostics and patient care. It is often the first step in assessing countless issues related to heart health,” said Andy Jacobson, Manager of Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging at United Hospital, part of Allina Health. “Demand for echocardiography is growing at a high rate nationally and that growth is not expected to slow for years to come. The partnership with Concordia University, Saint Paul, will help fill a void in the medical industry by preparing the next generation of cardiac sonographers who will become essential members of the overall cardiac care process.”

CSP offers two concentrations in diagnostic medical sonography (DMS), general sonography and cardiac (echocardiography) sonography. Diagnostic medical sonographers are trained to operate specialized equipment that sends sound waves into areas of the patient’s body. Cardiac (echocardiography) sonographers specialize in imaging of the heart, its function, and blood flow, while general sonographers specialize in all other areas of the body, such as obstetric and gynecologic, the abdomen, small parts, vascular, musculoskeletal, and neurosonography.

Concordia’s DMS program offers a more cost-effective and efficient career path option compared to similar programs in Minnesota, as its two-year AAS model provides students with the same credentials to work as a sonographer as a four-year degree, saving students both time and money.

Students interested in applying for Concordia’s DMS program should visit csp.edu/dms to learn about admission requirements.

About Allina Health
Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services that provide home care, senior transitions, hospice care, home oxygen and medical equipment, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at allinahealth.org and join us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Concordia University, St. Paul
Founded in 1893, Concordia University, St. Paul is a private Lutheran liberal arts university that delivers academic programs that are responsive to the needs of our students and relevant to the demands of the job market. One of the most affordable private universities in Minnesota, Concordia St. Paul’s student body consists of more than 5,500 students representing all 50 states and 29 different countries. For more information please visit csp.edu.

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