How to Select the Best Sonography Course Near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Gilbert AZ, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each college so that you can assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many prospective students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are various 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 description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Gilbert AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work tasks of a sonogram tech can consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case 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
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for those 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 related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools set up through Gilbert AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Arizona or whichever 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 Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Gilbert AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Gilbert home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are frequently less costly than on campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with any sonography school you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you choose is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Colleges
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Gilbert AZ area. Naturally location will be important if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional things that you must also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies 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 help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Gilbert AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the sonogram tech programs you are assessing have partnerships with Gilbert AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Gilbert health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Gilbert AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to 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 rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable 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 prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Gilbert AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Gilbert Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you select an online degree or drive 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 options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Gilbert Arizona.