How to Find an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near Flagstaff Arizona
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to begin the procedure of picking a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one begin? A number of individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are multiple 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 primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Flagstaff AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily job duties of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- 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 testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have previously received 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges organize through Flagstaff AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whatever state you decide 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Programs
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Flagstaff AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Flagstaff home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just as with every sonographer school you are looking at, check that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important 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 an online school may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
Once you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Flagstaff AZ area. Clearly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonography school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to verify 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may 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. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Flagstaff AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are interested in have relationships with Flagstaff AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain 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 supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Flagstaff medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the sonographer programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial 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 number of students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Flagstaff AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer college you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Flagstaff Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is the case 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 compare each college, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Flagstaff Arizona.