How to Pick an Accredited Sonography Course Near Maricopa Arizona
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Maricopa AZ, it's time to begin the process of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary education to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you research each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? A number of students will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Ultrasound Tech Work Description
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). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Maricopa AZ hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finalize. 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 related health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up with Maricopa AZ hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Arizona or whichever state you elect 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 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.
Sonographer Online Programs
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram technician schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Maricopa AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Maricopa home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Colleges
After you have determined which certificate or degree 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 college campus in the Maricopa AZ area. Naturally location will be important if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure that the school and program 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive review of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Maricopa AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are evaluating have associations with Maricopa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Maricopa healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Maricopa AZ home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Maricopa AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn 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 Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to commencing a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each college, 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 accomplish your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Maricopa Arizona.