How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician School Near Marana Arizona
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Marana AZ, it's time to begin the procedure of picking a college. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you research each college so that you can assess and compare your choices. But exactly 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. Certainly cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Marana AZ hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job functions of a sonogram tech can involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve around 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have already earned 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 health 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 most sonographer colleges do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools set up with Marana AZ clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites 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 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Programs
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus facility. Practical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Marana AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Marana home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online colleges are many times less expensive than on-campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But similarly as with every sonographer school you are reviewing, verify that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
When you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Marana AZ area. Of course location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important 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 obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Marana AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech programs you are interested in have partnerships with Marana AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Marana health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the sonographer programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication 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 have to be within driving distance of their Marana AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have 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 don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate 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 tech program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Marana AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Marana Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to commencing a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy durations 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 desirable skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Marana Arizona.