How to Pick the Best Sonography School Near Flagstaff Arizona
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Flagstaff AZ, the next step is to begin the procedure of picking a school. First, you must find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate 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 research each program in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Many individuals will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are more than one 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 function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Flagstaff AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work functions of a sonogram technician may involve:
- 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 use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have previously 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 relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that almost all sonographer schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize through Flagstaff AZ clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Schools
As previously mentioned, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Flagstaff AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Flagstaff home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are often less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
When you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Flagstaff AZ area. Naturally location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are other things that you should also take into account, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected 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 a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. 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 school for entry level openings.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are reviewing have associations with Flagstaff AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Flagstaff healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the sonographer schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Flagstaff AZ home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose 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 often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often 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 likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching 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 a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, confirm 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 need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Flagstaff Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to initiating a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each school, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Flagstaff Arizona.