How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Gilbert AZ, the next step is to start the process of selecting a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary training to become a qualified professional. And because some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? Many prospective students will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Gilbert AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work functions of an ultrasound tech can consist of:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere 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 mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have already earned 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 instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that most sonographer colleges do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many schools organize through Gilbert AZ clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you elect 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 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 Tech Schools
As previously mentioned, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Gilbert AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Gilbert home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are often less costly than traditional options. Costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are considering, check that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
After you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Gilbert AZ area. Of course location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive review of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it may also receive 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. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Gilbert AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing have associations with Gilbert AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Gilbert healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the sonographer schools you are considering have job assistance 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Gilbert AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 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 to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Gilbert AZ area, check 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 need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Gilbert Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to entering a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you select an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Gilbert Arizona.