How to Find an Accredited Sonography College Near Oro Valley Arizona
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. First, you must find the right program that will provide the proper training to become a qualified professional. And given that some 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 examination. So it's very important that you research each program in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Most prospective students will start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonographer Work Description
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of a sonogram tech can include:
- 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 use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly 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 maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to complete. Another option for individuals who have previously obtained 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that most sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through Oro Valley AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you elect 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 Technician Online Classes
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Oro Valley AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Oro Valley home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less expensive than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased also. But just as with every sonographer school you are reviewing, 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 significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
When you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Oro Valley AZ area. Naturally location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech schools have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to verify 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). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Oro Valley AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the sonogram tech colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Oro Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Oro Valley medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Oro Valley AZ residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Oro Valley AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Oro Valley Ultrasound Tech Program
Picking the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to initiating a rewarding new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this article, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online degree 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 alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Oro Valley Arizona.