How to Select the Best Ultrasound Tech College Near El Mirage Arizona
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near El Mirage AZ, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of 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 examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Many prospective students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Work Summary
There are several 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 carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in El Mirage AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work tasks of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete. Another option for those who have already received 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 related medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through El Mirage AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you elect 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 El Mirage 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 Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local El Mirage AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the balance of the classes and training can be accessed online in your El Mirage home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less costly than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased also. But just as with any ultrasound tech program you are looking at, confirm that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Colleges
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the El Mirage AZ area. Certainly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are additional things that you should also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive review of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized 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 frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many El Mirage AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have partnerships with El Mirage AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the El Mirage medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will need to be within driving distance of their El Mirage AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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 kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical 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 converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the El Mirage AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best El Mirage Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools 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 health, able to stand for prolonged periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with 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 several questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in El Mirage Arizona.