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How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Phoenix Arizona

ultrasound diagnostic exam of pregnant patient in Phoenix ArizonaOnce you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Phoenix AZ, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Many students will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.

Sonographer Work Summary

Phoenix Arizona ultrasound tech examining young lady

There are more than one acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job duties of an ultrasound tech can include:

  • Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
  • Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
  • Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
  • Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
  • Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
  • Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing

Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on a regular basis.

Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available

Sonogram tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to complete. Another alternative for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received 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 require just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges organize with Phoenix AZ hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you decide to practice in.

Ultrasound Technology Specialties

Phoenix Arizona patient receiving sonography diagnostic test for thyroid cancerUltrasound 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 Phoenix 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 Ultrasound Technician Degrees

Phoenix Arizona woman student attending ultrasound tech online schoolAs aforementioned, almost all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Phoenix AZhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Phoenix home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are often less expensive than on campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But just as with every sonographer program you are considering, check that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.

Topics to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs

As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Phoenix AZ area. Obviously location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonography school before deciding.

Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to verify that the program and school 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed review of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Phoenix AZ health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level openings.

Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are evaluating have associations with Phoenix AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Phoenix health care community and assist with obtaining employment.

Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Phoenix AZ home. Students who have opted 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 importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer  college you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Phoenix AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Learn More About Phoenix Ultrasound Technician Programs

Choose the Best Phoenix Ultrasound Tech Training

Enrolling in the right sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This holds true whether you select an online program or drive 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 choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Phoenix Arizona.

 

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