How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Technician College Near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Oro Valley AZ, the next step is to start the procedure of picking a college. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And because 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 examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most potential students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
There are several 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 basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily job functions of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 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 health 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 the majority of sonographer colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many colleges sponsor with Oro Valley AZ clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with 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 Oro Valley 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 Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Oro Valley AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Oro Valley home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online colleges are many times less costly than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech college you are considering, make sure 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 particularly important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Sonography Colleges
Now that you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Oro Valley AZ area. Certainly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 undergone a rigorous review of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Oro Valley AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level jobs.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have associations with Oro Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Oro Valley medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Oro Valley AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. 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 may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final 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 also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Oro Valley AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Oro Valley Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a vital first step to commencing a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Oro Valley Arizona.