How to Pick an Accredited Sonography College Near Catalina Arizona
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Catalina AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a college. First, you need to find the right program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? A number of individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Work Summary
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Catalina AZ hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work functions of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have previously earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that most sonographer schools do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools organize with Catalina AZ hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whichever 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 Catalina 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 Technician Online Colleges
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Catalina AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Catalina home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are frequently more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But just as with every sonography school you are reviewing, confirm that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
When you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Catalina AZ area. Of course location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are other things that you should also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Catalina AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram tech schools you are evaluating have relationships with Catalina AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Catalina health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Catalina AZ home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Catalina AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Catalina Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to starting a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Catalina Arizona.