How to Choose an Accredited Sonography Program Near Phoenix Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Phoenix AZ, the next step is to start the process of choosing a college. First, you have to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? A number of prospective students will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internships. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work Description
There are multiple 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 description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously obtained 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 take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize with Phoenix AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification 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 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 Sonogram Tech Programs
As previously mentioned, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Phoenix AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Phoenix home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are many times more affordable than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But just as with every sonography program you are considering, make sure that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
Once you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Phoenix AZ area. Naturally location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification as well. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, such as if the schools are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to verify that the program and school 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 gone through an extensive examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it may also earn 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. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Phoenix AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Phoenix AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Phoenix healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask 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 substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Phoenix AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech program you finally select can provide 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 Phoenix AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Phoenix Ultrasound Technician Program
Picking the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to starting a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Other beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online degree or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Phoenix Arizona.