How to Pick the Right Ultrasound Tech Program Near Marana Arizona
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Marana AZ, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. First, you need to find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? A number of students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Job Summary
There are several acceptable 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 function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Marana AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work duties of an ultrasound tech can include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously obtained 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 related medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor through Marana AZ clinics and hospitals. After 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 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 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.
Sonographer Online Schools
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Marana AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Marana home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are many times less costly than on campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced also. But just as with every sonographer school you are considering, verify that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Schools
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Marana AZ area. Naturally location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have obtained some type 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 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 gone through a rigorous 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 targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Marana AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech programs you are interested in have associations with Marana AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Marana medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Marana AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern 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 college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Marana AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Marana Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to starting a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right 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 proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Marana Arizona.