How to Choose an Accredited Sonography Program Near Golden Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Golden Valley AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? A number of potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be considered when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Golden Valley AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work tasks of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent 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 already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that almost all sonographer programs do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges set up with Golden Valley AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Arizona or whichever state you decide 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.
Online Sonographer Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Golden Valley AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the rest of the classes and training may be attended online in your Golden Valley home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are many times more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
As soon as you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Golden Valley AZ area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to verify that the school and program 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets 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 quality education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Golden Valley AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the sonogram tech colleges you are interested in have relationships with Golden Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Golden Valley healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Golden Valley AZ home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small 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 sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Golden Valley AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Golden Valley Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to launching a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Golden Valley Arizona.