How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Technician College Near Oro Valley Arizona
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Oro Valley AZ, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one begin? Most potential students will start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work Description
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called 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 carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Oro Valley AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work duties of a sonogram technician can include:
- 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 re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently 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 mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech students have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finish. Another option for individuals who have previously earned 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 medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor with Oro Valley AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you decide 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 Sonogram Tech Colleges
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound tech colleges 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 conducted in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Oro Valley AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Oro Valley home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently less costly than on-campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be lessened also. But similarly as with any sonographer school you are reviewing, make sure that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Schools
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Oro Valley AZ area. Naturally location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 undergone a rigorous review of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. 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 quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial aid 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 many Oro Valley AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the sonogram technician schools you are interested in have partnerships with Oro Valley AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Oro Valley health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably 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 sonographer schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success 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 confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Oro Valley AZ home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide 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.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. 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 enroll on a part-time basis, check 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 may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Oro Valley Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the right ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to commencing a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay collected when faced with 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 school you are looking at. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Oro Valley Arizona.