How to Select the Best Sonography Course Near New River Arizona
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near New River AZ, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Most prospective students will start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are multiple professional 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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in New River AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work functions of an ultrasound tech may include:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate 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 stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already 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 related health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges organize with New River AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Arizona or whatever state you elect 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 New River 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.
Sonographer Online Degrees
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local New River AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be accessed online in your New River home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are often less costly than traditional alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But just as with any sonography school you are looking at, check 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 significant 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 an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Schools
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the New River AZ area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to make sure that the school and program 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous examination of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many New River AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are evaluating have partnerships with New River AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the New River health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large 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 many students, the college they select will need to be within driving distance of their New River AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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 are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right New River Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to embarking on a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in New River Arizona.