How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Program Near Marana Arizona
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Marana AZ, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a college. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most students will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonographer Occupation Description
There are multiple acceptable 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 basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Marana AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job functions of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for those who have already earned 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 health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up with Marana AZ clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites 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 Marana 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 Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial 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 often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Marana AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Marana home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are reviewing, verify that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
Once you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Marana AZ area. Clearly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Marana AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram technician programs you are assessing have relationships with Marana AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Marana medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the sonographer schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Marana AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back 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 colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Marana AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Marana Ultrasound Technician Training
Picking the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each school you are reviewing. This is the case whether you select an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each school, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Marana Arizona.