How to Enroll in the Right Sonography Training Program Near Chandler Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Chandler AZ, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Most potential students will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Description
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Chandler AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job duties of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for those who have previously earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that most sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous schools set up through Chandler AZ clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification 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 Chandler 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 Ultrasound Tech Programs
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Chandler AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Chandler home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less costly than traditional alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just as with every sonography program you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Schools
When you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Chandler AZ area. Certainly 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 other factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed examination of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Chandler AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Chandler AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Chandler medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Chandler AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes 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 keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program 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 commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Chandler AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Chandler Ultrasound Technician Program
Picking the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to initiating a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Additional helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Chandler Arizona.