How to Select the Right Sonography Program Near Fountain Hills Arizona
Once you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Fountain Hills AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? A number of students will start by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Fountain Hills AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work tasks of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have already obtained 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 relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor through Fountain Hills AZ hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Arizona or whatever state you choose 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 Fountain Hills 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 Tech Schools
As previously mentioned, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Fountain Hills AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Fountain Hills home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are many times less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased also. But just as with every sonography school you are reviewing, check that the online school you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
Once you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Fountain Hills AZ area. Obviously location will be critical 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 must also take into account, such as if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech schools have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school 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). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Fountain Hills AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are evaluating have relationships with Fountain Hills AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Fountain Hills healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Fountain Hills AZ home. Those who have chosen 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 concern. One thing to bear in mind 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 typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the sonographer college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fountain Hills AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Fountain Hills Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Fountain Hills Arizona.