How to Choose the Best Sonography School Near Litchfield Park Arizona
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Litchfield Park AZ, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of 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 exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Most prospective students will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should 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 sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Summary
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Litchfield Park AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Keeping 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 re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already 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 relevant medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that most sonographer colleges do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools set up with Litchfield Park AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Arizona or whichever state you decide 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.
Online Sonogram Tech Schools
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Litchfield Park AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Litchfield Park home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But just as with any sonography college you are looking at, confirm that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important 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 an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
Once you have determined which 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 travel to a college campus in the Litchfield Park AZ area. Naturally location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 undergone an extensive review of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can 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. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Litchfield Park AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound technician programs you are assessing have associations with Litchfield Park AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Litchfield Park health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success 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 confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Litchfield Park AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school 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 frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Litchfield Park AZ area, make certain that they are available. 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, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Litchfield Park Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a vital first step to commencing a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Other desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you choose an online program or commute 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 alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Litchfield Park Arizona.