How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Program Near New River Arizona
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near New River AZ, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the appropriate training to become a skilled professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? Many students will start by looking for schools that are within commuting 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 other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be covered 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 available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Summary
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 description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though 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. Typical daily job duties of a sonogram technician may involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges set up through New River AZ hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you decide 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.
Online Sonographer Schools
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local New River AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your New River home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are often less expensive than traditional options. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech college you are reviewing, confirm that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
As soon as you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the New River AZ area. Certainly location will be critical if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to confirm that the program and school 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might also earn 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. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous New River AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are reviewing have associations with New River AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the New River healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the sonographer schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their New River AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right New River Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to entering a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you choose an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in New River Arizona.