How to Find the Best Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Maricopa Arizona
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Maricopa AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many students will start by looking for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Sonographer Work Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Maricopa AZ hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job tasks of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have previously obtained a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Maricopa AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements 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 Maricopa 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Schools
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Maricopa AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Maricopa home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online colleges are many times less costly than traditional options. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, confirm that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Programs
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Maricopa AZ area. Naturally location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Maricopa AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interested in have associations with Maricopa AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Maricopa health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Maricopa AZ residence. 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 local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Maricopa AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Maricopa Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to starting a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your objective to work as a sonographer in Maricopa Arizona.