How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Course Near Mesa Arizona
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Mesa AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And because some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? A number of students will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
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 primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Mesa AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work functions of a sonogram technician can involve:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for those who have already obtained 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 related health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that almost all sonographer programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools organize through Mesa AZ hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Arizona or whichever state you choose 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 Mesa 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 Programs
As aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Mesa AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Mesa home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online colleges are often more affordable than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But similarly as with any sonography program you are considering, verify that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
After you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Mesa AZ area. Obviously location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to confirm 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). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Mesa AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound technician colleges you are interested in have relationships with Mesa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Mesa healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Mesa AZ residence. Individuals who have opted 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 concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Mesa Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to initiating a gratifying new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to practice as a sonographer in Mesa Arizona.