How to Pick an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near Flagstaff Arizona
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program so that you can assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many students will begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Flagstaff AZ hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work duties of a sonogram technician can consist of:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer schools do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools set up through Flagstaff AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whatever 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 Colleges
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Flagstaff AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the balance of the classes and training may be attended online in your Flagstaff home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online schools are often more affordable than traditional options. Costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just as with every sonography school you are looking at, verify that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Flagstaff AZ area. Of course location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonography school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 undergone a rigorous evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Flagstaff AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have relationships with Flagstaff AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent manner to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Flagstaff health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Flagstaff AZ home. Those who have decided 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 importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Flagstaff Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to launching a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Flagstaff Arizona.