How to Enroll in the Best Sonography Degree Program Near Maricopa Arizona
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Maricopa AZ, the next step is to begin the process of picking a school. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do mandate 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 exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Most students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work Description
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Maricopa AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job functions of a sonogram technician may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another option for those who have already earned 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 instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up with Maricopa AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Arizona or whatever state you decide 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 Colleges
As previously mentioned, almost all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at a sponsored off campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Maricopa AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Maricopa home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are often less costly than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But similarly as with any sonography college you are looking at, check that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
As soon as you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. 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 critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of 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 undergone a detailed review of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Maricopa AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are evaluating have relationships with Maricopa AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Maricopa health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many 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 naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm 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 must schedule night or weekend classes in the Maricopa AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Maricopa Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to embarking on a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This is true whether you choose an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as a sonographer in Maricopa Arizona.