How to Select an Accredited Sonography Degree Program Near Mesa Arizona
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Mesa AZ, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Many individuals will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Mesa AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work functions of an ultrasound technician may include:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram tech students have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete. Another option for those who have previously 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 medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools organize with Mesa AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with 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 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Mesa AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Mesa home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be reduced as well. But similarly as with every sonographer program you are considering, make sure that the online school you select is accredited. Among 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 motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Mesa AZ area. Obviously location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for example if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous examination of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Mesa AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Provided? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are reviewing have relationships with Mesa AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain practical training 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 establish professional relationships in the Mesa healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the sonographer schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial 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 school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Mesa AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Mesa Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to embarking on a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each program, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Mesa Arizona.