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How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Phoenix Arizona

sonography diagnostic exam of pregnant woman in Phoenix ArizonaOnce you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Phoenix AZ, it's time to begin the process of picking a college. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the proper training to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? A number of potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are offered.

Sonogram Tech Job Summary

Phoenix Arizona ultrasound tech examining young woman

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. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job tasks of an ultrasound technician may consist of:

  • 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 usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
  • Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
  • Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
  • Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for further testing

Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.

Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered

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 accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to finish. Another alternative 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 related health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges set up with Phoenix AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Arizona or whatever state you choose to practice in.

Ultrasound Technology Specialties

Phoenix Arizona woman receiving ultrasound diagnostic test for thyroid tumorUltrasound 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.

Ultrasound Technician Online Programs

Phoenix Arizona female student attending ultrasound technician school onlineAs aforementioned, nearly all ultrasound tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Clinical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Phoenix AZhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Phoenix home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are often more affordable than traditional alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting can be lessened as well. But just as with every ultrasound tech program you are looking at, check that the online school you choose is accredited. One of 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 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 degree could be the right option for you.

Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs

As soon as you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Phoenix AZ area. Certainly location will be important if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonographer college before deciding.

Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still crucial to confirm 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the college is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Phoenix AZ employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.

Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have relationships with Phoenix AZ hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Phoenix health care community and assist with obtaining employment.

Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer schools you are interviewing 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 School Located? For many students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Phoenix AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally 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 way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech  school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Phoenix AZ area, make sure 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 have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

Learn More About Phoenix Ultrasound Technician Training

Choose the Best Phoenix Ultrasound Tech Program

Selecting the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to commencing a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic standards, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended durations with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay calm when confronted by 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 need to ask each school you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Phoenix Arizona.

 

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