How to Select the Best Sonography School Near Gilbert Arizona
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Gilbert AZ, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will furnish the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, 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 investigate each college in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? A number of individuals will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are multiple acceptable 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 testing on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Gilbert AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily job functions of a sonogram technician can include:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for those who have previously 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through Gilbert AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements 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 Gilbert 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 earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Gilbert AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Gilbert home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are considering, make sure that the online program 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 particularly significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
After you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Gilbert AZ area. Certainly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are other things 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 arrive at your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonography school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram tech schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to confirm 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Gilbert AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are interested in have relationships with Gilbert AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Gilbert healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Gilbert AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom 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 schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gilbert AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Gilbert Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a vital first step to embarking on a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for extended durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm 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 article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as a sonographer in Gilbert Arizona.