How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Program Near El Mirage Arizona
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near El Mirage AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the proper education to become a skilled professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Many potential students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and other qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in El Mirage AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily job duties of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech 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 finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have previously obtained 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 sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many schools sponsor through El Mirage AZ hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements 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 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.
Online Sonogram Tech Schools
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local El Mirage AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes may be accessed online in your El Mirage home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are many times less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But similarly as with any sonography college you are looking at, check that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the El Mirage AZ area. Of course location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are other variables that you should also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to verify 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited programs. 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 program for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram technician colleges you are assessing have relationships with El Mirage AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to obtain practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the El Mirage medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their El Mirage AZ home. 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 importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the El Mirage AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. 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 Right El Mirage Ultrasound Technician Program
Picking the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to starting a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or travel to the school 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, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a sonographer in El Mirage Arizona.