How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech College Near Oro Valley Arizona
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Oro Valley AZ, the next step is to begin the procedure of choosing a college. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Many prospective students will begin by looking 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 important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Sonographer Job Description
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work duties of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to complete. Another option for those who have previously 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 relevant health sector, 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 ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges set up through Oro Valley AZ hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements in Arizona or whichever state you elect to work 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.
Online Ultrasound Technician Classes
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Oro Valley AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Oro Valley home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently less costly than on-campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be decreased also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech college you are considering, verify that the online school you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Oro Valley AZ area. Certainly location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Oro Valley AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have associations with Oro Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Oro Valley healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Oro Valley AZ home. Individuals who have chosen 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 importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Oro Valley AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Oro Valley Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for lengthy time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Additional helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Oro Valley Arizona.