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BSC launches sonography program with industry and grant support

Published: Mar 25 2021
Responding to an increasing demand for sonographers across the state, Bismarck State College has launched a Diagnostic Medical Sonography program to train students for the high-wage, high-skill career. According to Job Service North Dakota predictions, the need for sonographers in the state will increase nearly 26% from 2019-2029, equating to more than 200 positions.

The foundational support for the new program came from Sanford Health, which provided the first commitment of support for the Sonography program director position.

“Our mission is to bring health and healing to the people who live and work across our region,” said Dr. Michael LeBeau, Sanford Health Bismarck president. “What better way to achieve this goal than by supporting training programs and scholarships to students with a vital community partner like Bismarck State College.”

Sanford Health established a scholarship endowment fund at the BSC Foundation to support students entering Health Science programs at BSC. In addition, both BSC and the BSC Foundation were awarded three grants totaling $290K to purchase equipment and supplies to start the new Sonography program. The Otto Bremer Trust awarded the BSC Foundation $80K to purchase ultrasound machines for student training. BSC received $50K from the ND Career and Technical Education Perkins Innovation Grant and $160K from the ND Governor’s Emergency Educational Relief Fund. Together, these grant funds allowed the purchase of enough ultrasound machines and simulators to ensure all students receive hands-on training on the same high-tech equipment they’ll be using in the workforce.

“Access to health care services in rural communities is vital in providing quality of life to North Dakota residents,” said Charlotte Johnson, Otto Bremer Trust co-CEO and trustee. “OBT’s investment in affordable training options at BSC will provide both sustainable careers for needed sonographers and essential services to the public.”

“Our new Sonography program is a prime example of BSC’s mission as the state’s only polytechnic institution, being at the nexus of community, economic, and workforce development,” said BSC President Doug Jensen. “The public-private partnership is an essential avenue to bring expanded career pathways to incoming freshman and also working adults that want to reskill into high-demand jobs in a short amount of time. We are grateful for the support of our donors to successfully start-up this new program.”

Enrollment in the Sonography program is strong, with 35 students enrolled in pre-Sonography courses, ready to begin their technical courses in Fall 2021.

“This is a great career choice for people,” said Mari Volk, BSC dean of Current and Emerging Technologies. “Sonographers are not only in high demand, their average wage is around $70K per year. We have interest from students just starting out, and also from professionals with a four-year degree who want more mobility and earning potential in their current jobs.”

Students interested in applying for scholarships should apply at bismarckstate.edu/alumnifoundation.