How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near El Mirage Arizona
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near El Mirage AZ, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the proper instruction 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 licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each school so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Most potential students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job 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 function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in El Mirage AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job functions of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already 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 require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools sponsor with El Mirage AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whatever state you elect 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 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 Tech Online Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local El Mirage AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your El Mirage home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are often more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech program you are considering, 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 crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated 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 Sonogram Tech Colleges
Once you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the El Mirage AZ area. Certainly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional things that you must also take into consideration, such as 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 ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many El Mirage AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the ultrasound tech colleges you are interested in have relationships with El Mirage AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the El Mirage healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their El Mirage AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have 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 type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the El Mirage AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right El Mirage Ultrasound Technician Training
Picking the right sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to commencing a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each college 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 proper questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as a sonographer in El Mirage Arizona.