How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Training Program Near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Oro Valley AZ, the next step is to start the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a qualified professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? Many potential students will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost must be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Sonographer Work Summary
There are several professional 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 basic job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques 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 clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job 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
- Readying the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician 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 require about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another option for those who have previously received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained 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 take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous schools sponsor with Oro Valley AZ clinics and hospitals. Once 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 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.
Sonographer Online Classes
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Oro Valley AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Oro Valley home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than traditional alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech college you are looking at, verify that the online school you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Programs
When you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Oro Valley AZ area. Obviously location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to confirm 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 gone through an extensive examination of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Oro Valley AZ health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have associations with Oro Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional relationships in the Oro Valley health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Oro Valley AZ home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers 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 enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Oro Valley AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Oro Valley Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to embarking on a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy durations and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Oro Valley Arizona.