How to Find the Right Sonography Degree Program Near Golden Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Golden Valley AZ, the next step is to start the procedure of selecting a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And since 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 investigate each college so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? A number of individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
There are multiple professional 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 cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Golden Valley AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work functions of a sonogram technician may include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further 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 level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finish. Another option for those who have previously obtained 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 enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Golden Valley AZ clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whatever state you choose 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 Golden Valley 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.
Sonographer Online Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Golden Valley AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Golden Valley home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less costly than on-campus alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech program you are considering, verify 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 particularly significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Golden Valley AZ area. Certainly location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore 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 ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to confirm 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). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Golden Valley AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are interested in have associations with Golden Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Golden Valley healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the sonographer schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Golden Valley AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Golden Valley AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Golden Valley Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected 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 multiple questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This is true whether you select an online degree or drive 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 choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Golden Valley Arizona.