How to Find the Right Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Flagstaff Arizona
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And because a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most individuals will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
There are various 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 basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Flagstaff AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job functions of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Preserving records of patient case 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 recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those 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 relevant medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer programs do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up with Flagstaff AZ hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing requirements in Arizona or whichever 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 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 Degrees
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Flagstaff AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Flagstaff home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are often more affordable than traditional alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are considering, make sure that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Flagstaff AZ area. Certainly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed review of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Flagstaff AZ health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are assessing have relationships with Flagstaff AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional relationships in the Flagstaff healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job assistance 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Flagstaff AZ home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized 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 final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Flagstaff Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is an important first step to entering a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for extended durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Flagstaff Arizona.