How to Choose an Accredited Sonography Training Program Near Avondale Arizona
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Avondale AZ, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. First, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? Most students will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be considered when making a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Job Summary
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Avondale AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job tasks of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for further testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Avondale AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whatever state you choose to work in.
Ultrasound Technology Specialties
Ultrasound technology, or diagnostic sonography, has become more popular for diagnosing internal medical conditions because, unlike other medical imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans, ultrasound doesn’t expose the body to radiation. This safer approach has made ultrasound imaging the preferred method for testing pregnant women and infants, who have a higher risk for complications due to radiation. However, babies and expectant mothers are not the only ones who can benefit from ultrasound imaging and it is used in many ways to diagnose illness in the body. Following is a partial list of ultrasound technician education specialties available in the Avondale AZ area:
- Musculoskeletal sonographers can create real-time images of joint injuries, assisting orthopedic surgeons and sports physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in generating images of abdominal internal organs and tissues, such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and gallbladder.
- Breast sonographers conduct ultrasound scans using a sound frequency specifically targeted for breast tissue to evaluate tumors and other abnormalities as a method of verifying or contradicting the results of a mammogram.
- Obstetrics/Gynecology sonographers work with women to scan their reproductive organs and assess the development and health of fetuses throughout the pregnancy.
- Echocardiography sonographers are trained in the imaging and evaluation of the heart, its valves and vessels, and the blood flow to and from the heart.
- Vascular technologists are trained to use ultrasound technology to identify damaged areas or blockages in blood vessels, and to gauge the flow of blood through veins and arteries.
- Ophthalmology sonographers conduct diagnostic tests on the eyes and surrounding muscles and tissue.
- Neurosonology sonographers are specially trained to use ultrasound imaging to detect blockages, tumors or abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Ultrasound Tech Online Colleges
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Avondale AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Avondale home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are often less costly than traditional options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But just as with any sonography program you are considering, verify that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
Once you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Avondale AZ area. Obviously location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Avondale AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are interested in have relationships with Avondale AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Avondale medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the sonographer schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Avondale AZ home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Avondale AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Avondale Ultrasound Technician Program
Picking the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to initiating a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged durations and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as a sonographer in Avondale Arizona.