How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Maricopa Arizona
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Maricopa AZ, the next step is to begin the process of picking a school. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate 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 research each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Many potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Summary
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Maricopa AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work duties of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently gauge 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 maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 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 finish. Another option for individuals who have already obtained 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 medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor with Maricopa AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements 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 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 Technician Colleges
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Maricopa AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Maricopa home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are many times more affordable than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But just as with every sonographer program you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected 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 disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
When you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Maricopa AZ area. Naturally location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial 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 internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. 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 obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Maricopa AZ health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound technician colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Maricopa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional connections in the Maricopa health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Maricopa AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Maricopa AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Maricopa Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the right sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to commencing a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Other helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Maricopa Arizona.