How to Find the Best Sonography Degree Program Near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Catalina Foothills AZ, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Most students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location should be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Catalina Foothills AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work tasks of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve 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 complete. Another option 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 relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize through Catalina Foothills AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you decide to practice 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 Catalina Foothills 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.
Online Sonographer Programs
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Catalina Foothills AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Catalina Foothills home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less costly than on-campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any sonography program you are considering, verify that the online school you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Catalina Foothills AZ area. Of course location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other things that you should also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed review of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might 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. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Catalina Foothills AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the ultrasound technician colleges you are evaluating have associations with Catalina Foothills AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Catalina Foothills healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Catalina Foothills AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. 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 as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Catalina Foothills AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Catalina Foothills Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to initiating a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Catalina Foothills Arizona.