How to Choose the Best Ultrasound Tech School Near Maricopa Arizona
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Maricopa AZ, it's time to begin the process of picking a college. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And because some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each college so that you can evaluate and compare your choices. 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. Naturally location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Occupation 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). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Maricopa AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job functions of a sonogram technician can involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to complete. Another option for individuals who have previously received 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many schools organize with Maricopa AZ hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification 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 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.
Online Ultrasound Tech Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Maricopa AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Maricopa home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less costly than traditional options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are considering, confirm that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Maricopa AZ area. Clearly location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional things that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 gone through a detailed assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it may also receive 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. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Maricopa AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Maricopa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific manner to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional connections in the Maricopa health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Maricopa AZ home. Individuals 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. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Maricopa AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Maricopa Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to commencing a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Maricopa Arizona.