JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Challenging the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) credentialling exam after graduating from the Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (DMS) training program is normally a straightforward process if one has met all the requirements. For some graduates of the program, however, it’s a bit more complicated.
Petty Officer (Corpsman) 2nd Class Kristin Rupkus, an ultrasound instructor in the joint Air Force/Navy DMS Technologist program at the Medical Education and Training Campus on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, passed the exam in April 2022, becoming the first Navy graduate of the METC DMS program to challenge and pass the registry and earn the ARDMS credential with a specialty in abdominal sonography. But the route to reach this milestone was long and difficult.
“The process of acquiring the registry is basically a two-step process,” explained Rupkus. “It includes a physics test and then a specialty test. I was able to qualify and pass the physics test in 2018 but had been struggling to qualify for a specialty test since 2019.” The ARDMS certifying body required documentation showing that she completed and graduated the program with a passing letter grade. However, her Navy transcripts did not show all the required information, only that she attended and passed the course.
The only other options she had was to get an associate degree in applied science or to have a bachelor’s degree, but neither of these options worked well for her. “I have an associate degree in health science and was overseas at the time and did not like the online school options for the bachelor’s degree that I wanted.”
It wasn’t until she arrived at METC in September 2021 to become an ultrasound instructor for the DMS program did she find out that the METC registrar’s office could help.
“I was able to acquire the METC transcripts, letters from my previous radiologists stating that I had proficiently been working as an ultrasound technologist, along with other ARDMS documents and was finally qualified in November 2021 to take the abdomen exam.”
The ultrasound program in the Navy is still quite new compared to the Air Force and is a very small community with a current total of 20 technicians. Rupkus was the 7th Sailor to go through the METC program.
It was a complicated journey, but in the end Rupkus felt it was worth it. “Being able to qualify and pass the registry means quite a lot to me. There’s a sense of pride because it shows that I am competent in my abilities as a technologist. It has allowed me to progress in my career to be an instructor and I am qualified to provide my skills and services to the community by working at a hospital outside of the military.”
Now that she has challenged and passed the ARDMS registry Rupkus has been encouraging and helping other Navy technicians to qualify for the exam. She also plans to continue developing her knowledge and adding more specialties to her credentials. “I am currently studying for the OB/GYN exam,” she stated. “I’m planning to take it towards the end of the year.”