How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Program Near Flagstaff Arizona
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Flagstaff AZ, the next step is to begin the process of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one start? Most students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered 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 options that are available.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Flagstaff AZ hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work tasks of an ultrasound technician may include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to complete. Another option for those who have already obtained 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges organize with Flagstaff AZ hospitals and clinics. After 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 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 Flagstaff 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 Technician Classes
As previously mentioned, nearly all ultrasound tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Flagstaff AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Flagstaff home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech college you are looking at, make sure that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Flagstaff AZ area. Obviously location will be important if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded 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 rigorous evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Flagstaff AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the ultrasound technician programs you are assessing have partnerships with Flagstaff AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Flagstaff health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out 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 large networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Flagstaff AZ home. Students 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 concern. One thing 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for 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 class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Flagstaff Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to initiating a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This is the case whether you select an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Flagstaff Arizona.