How to Select the Right Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near New River Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near New River AZ, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the proper instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation 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 prospective students will start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be considered 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 offer internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
There are several 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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in New River AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work tasks of an ultrasound tech may involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health 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 training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another option for individuals 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 medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools organize with New River AZ clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whichever 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 Classes
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local New River AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your New River home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced also. But just as with any sonographer college you are looking at, verify that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Programs
When you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the New River AZ area. Certainly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of New River AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Inquire if the ultrasound tech schools you are assessing have partnerships with New River AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the New River healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement 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 College Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their New River AZ home. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check 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 as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best New River Ultrasound Technician Training
Picking the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to starting a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you select an online program or commute to the school 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 program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as a sonographer in New River Arizona.