How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Tech College Near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to start the procedure of selecting a school. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will provide the proper education to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each school in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? A number of individuals will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional important factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Job Summary
There are various professional 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 function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Oro Valley AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job functions of an ultrasound tech can 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 use and then cleaning and re-calibrating 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 additional testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have previously obtained 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 related health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Oro Valley AZ clinics and hospitals. 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 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 previously mentioned, nearly all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Oro Valley AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Oro Valley home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are many times less expensive than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But similarly as with every sonographer program you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you choose is accredited. Among 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 motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Sonography Schools
When you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Oro Valley AZ area. Of course location will be critical if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into account, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it might also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Oro Valley AZ health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are reviewing have partnerships with Oro Valley AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates develop professional connections in the Oro Valley healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing 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 good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Oro Valley AZ residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally 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 even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Oro Valley AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Oro Valley Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is a vital first step to commencing a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy time frames and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are reviewing. This is the case whether you select an online program or commute to the school 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 ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as a sonographer in Oro Valley Arizona.