How to Choose the Best Sonography Program Near Litchfield Park Arizona
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Litchfield Park AZ, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Many prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling 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 as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are more than one 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 primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Litchfield Park AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job duties of a sonogram technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously received 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 related health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that most sonographer programs do have a clinical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges organize through Litchfield Park AZ clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Arizona or whatever state you choose 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 Litchfield Park 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Programs
As previously mentioned, nearly all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Litchfield Park AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Litchfield Park home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less expensive than on-campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be lessened as well. But just as with any sonography program you are looking at, make sure that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for licensing, certification and finding employment (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 online classes could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Once you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Litchfield Park AZ area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed review of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online 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 securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Litchfield Park AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the sonogram tech schools you are interested in have relationships with Litchfield Park AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Litchfield Park healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Litchfield Park AZ home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Litchfield Park AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Litchfield Park Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to initiating a fulfilling new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Other helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess 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 determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Litchfield Park Arizona.