How to Select the Right Sonography Degree Program Near Mesa Arizona
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Mesa AZ, it's time to start the process of picking a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? A number of potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving 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 critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Mesa AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work functions of a sonogram technician can consist of:
- 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 usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the 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. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically take about 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for those 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools sponsor through Mesa AZ clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whatever state you decide 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.
Ultrasound Tech Online Classes
As previously mentioned, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Mesa AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Mesa home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with any sonography program you are reviewing, verify that the online school you ultimately pick 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 job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Mesa AZ area. Of course location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 undergone a detailed examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it can also receive 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 guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Mesa AZ health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram tech programs you are evaluating have relationships with Mesa AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally 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 assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Mesa AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even 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 to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Mesa Ultrasound Technician Program
Picking the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to commencing a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to work as a sonographer in Mesa Arizona.