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How to Find an Accredited Sonography School Near Oro Valley Arizona

ultrasound exam of pregnant woman in Oro Valley ArizonaOnce you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Oro Valley AZ, the next step is to begin 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 qualified professional. And given that some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school in order to evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? A number of students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.

Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary

Oro Valley Arizona sonographer examining young lady

There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Oro Valley AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job functions of an ultrasound technician may involve:

  • Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
  • Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
  • Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
  • Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
  • Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
  • Reviewing the results and identifying need for further testing

Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.

Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available

Ultrasound tech students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have previously 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 enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that almost all sonographer colleges do have a practical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges organize with Oro Valley AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whatever state you decide to practice in.

Ultrasound Technology Specialties

Oro Valley Arizona patient receiving ultrasound diagnostic exam for thyroid tumorUltrasound 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.

Sonogram Tech Online Degrees

Oro Valley Arizona female student enrolled in ultrasound tech courses onlineAs aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Oro Valley AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the balance of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Oro Valley home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently more affordable than on-campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just as with any sonographer college you are looking at, confirm that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.

Questions to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs

Now that you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you will access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Oro Valley AZ area. Clearly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are other variables that you should also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.

Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Oro Valley AZ employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level positions.

Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram technician colleges you are assessing have associations with Oro Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Oro Valley healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.

Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Oro Valley AZ home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer 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 opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the sonographer  school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Oro Valley AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Oro Valley Ultrasound Technician Programs

Enroll in the Best Oro Valley Ultrasound Tech Training

Picking the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to commencing a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy durations and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep collected when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Oro Valley Arizona.

 

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