How to Enroll in an Accredited Sonography College Near New River Arizona
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near New River AZ, the next step is to start the process of choosing a school. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide 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 certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? A number of individuals will start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in New River AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work functions of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details 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
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree 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 up to four years to finalize. Another option for those who have previously earned 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 sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges organize through New River AZ clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whichever 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 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, nearly all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local New River AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your New River home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less costly than traditional alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be lessened as well. But similarly as with every sonography program you are considering, check that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
Once you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the New River AZ area. Naturally location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into consideration, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school 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). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed review of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many New River AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level openings.
Are Internships Provided? Inquire if the ultrasound technician programs you are assessing have relationships with New River AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the New River healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their New River AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the New River AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right New River Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to launching a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are looking at. This is true 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 assess each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in New River Arizona.