Sovah Health - Danville, IALR Launch Region’s First Sonography Training Program

October 6, 2020

Sovah Health – Danville and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) are launching a new Sonography Training Program, the first of its kind in Southern Virginia, to fill a regional workforce shortage for registered sonographers. The accelerated 12-month certificate program will help develop and retain regional talent and meet local health care employers’ recruitment needs. 

“Sovah Health values education and with the success of our Radiologic Technology Program, we are excited to be able to provide the new Sonography School to our community with a wide variety of challenging and rewarding career options,” said Alan Larson, Market President, Sovah Health and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sovah Health – Danville. “We are proud to be able to invest in a high-demand professional skill that will prepare these students for a career in a rapidly growing field in health care.”

Regional health care providers like Sovah Health have expressed limited access to registered sonographers, which has led to unfilled positions and dependence on outside resources like temporary/traveling talent services. In the past, the nearest training programs were located in Charlottesville and Winston Salem. A local program, located at Sovah Health – Danville, is anticipated to help resolve the workforce shortage, which could deepen if not addressed. According to Career Education Colleges and Universities, over the next decade, the demand for medical sonographers will grow by 23 percent, over three times the national average.

The start-up of the training program will be supported by a $238,775 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and matched with support from Sovah Health and IALR. Sovah Health will lead, develop and execute the training program. IALR will serve as fiscal agent and, in conjunction with the Dan River Region Collaborative, will oversee exploration of opportunities for what would be the state’s second registered health care apprenticeship with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

“We are thrilled to help meet the needs of our region’s health care providers while preparing our local talent for highly skilled, competitive-wage job opportunities,” said Dr. Julie Brown, Director of Advanced Learning at IALR and Project Director of the Dan River Region Collaborative. “I look forward to steering the exploration of a state-registered apprenticeship opportunity that leverages work-based learning best practices to produce career-ready graduates for our employers.”

Qualified candidates for the training program include students who have already earned a two-year associate’s health degree or a degree in another discipline such as radiologic technology, registered nursing or registered respiratory therapy. Additionally, students with a bachelor’s degree and course work in physics and anatomy are qualified to apply to the program. The Sonography Training Program would provide an opportunity to upgrade their skills with an additional year of training and be considered for high-wage, high-demand jobs.

Sovah Health – Danville’s School of Health Professions offers an associate degree in radiologic technology, which presents a pathway opportunity for the Sonography Training Program. Sovah’s accredited Radiologic

Technology program, in practice since 2004, boasts a 94-percent five-year pass rate and a 100-percent five-year job placement rate.

Graduates of the Sonography Training Program will be qualified to take two nationally recognized certification exams. The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) is the most highly regarded certifying body. Additionally, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers certification in sonography.

Those interested in applying for the Sonography Training Program should complete the application located on Sovah Health's website. For more information, call 434-799-2271 and ask for the School of Health Professions Program Director or Sonography Program Director. The deadline for applications is Dec. 15, 2020, and financial aid is available for those qualified.

Sovah Health – Danville is excited to welcome the new Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program Director, Elaine Nichols, MSSL, BS, RDMS, RDCS, RVT, R(T)R, ACUE. Elaine comes to Danville from Bedford, VA where she worked at Piedmont Virginia Community College as the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program Director. She obtained her Bachelor of Radiologic Sciences from College of Health and Life Sciences in Roanoke, Master of Strategic Sciences from Mountain State University, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies from the University of Lynchburg. In her spare time, Elaine enjoys reading, embroidery, quilting, and serving on the Virginia Society of Ultrasound.

Elaine will have virtual meet and greet zoom sessions for potential students to ask questions and learn more about the program. The first session will be October 16th at 5pm. For more information on these sessions, contact

About Sovah Health

Sovah Health is a regional healthcare delivery system, serving the south-central Virginia and north central North Carolina region. It is comprised of two hospital campuses, one in Danville and the other in Martinsville. The Danville campus is the leading medical center in the Dan River Region of Virginia and North Carolina employing approximately 1300 people and with 175 physicians are on the medical staff. The Martinsville campus has been at the heart of the Martinsville and Henry County community and the surrounding area providing exceptional healthcare and services to the region since 1970. Sovah Health - Martinsville has more than 120 physicians on the medical staff and employs more than 850 people.

About the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research serves Virginia as a regional catalyst for economic transformation with applied research, advanced learning, advanced manufacturing, conference center services and economic development efforts. IALR’s major footprint focuses within Southern Virginia, including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville. For more information, visit