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How to Select the Right Sonography School Near Phoenix Arizona

ultrasound diagnostic exam of pregnant woman in Phoenix ArizonaSince you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Phoenix AZ, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. First, you have to find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each school in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? A number of students will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training options that are available.

Sonogram Tech Work Summary

Phoenix Arizona ultrasound technician diagnosing young lady

There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound technician can consist of:

  • Maintaining records of patient case 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
  • Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
  • Evaluating results and determining need for supplemental testing

Sonographers must frequently assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.

Sonogram Technician Degrees Available

Sonogram technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on 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 already earned 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor through Phoenix AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification prerequisites in Arizona or whatever state you choose to work 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.

Ultrasound Tech Online Classes

Phoenix Arizona female student enrolled in ultrasound technician online schoolAs previously mentioned, almost all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Phoenix AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Phoenix home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online programs are often more affordable than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But just as with every sonographer school you are considering, confirm that the online school you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.

Questions to Ask Sonography Programs

As soon as you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will access 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 undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are other things that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonographer school prior to making a decision.

Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive 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 premium education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Phoenix AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry level jobs.

Are Internships Offered? Ask if the sonogram tech colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Phoenix AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Phoenix health care community and help with obtaining employment.

Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the sonographer schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great 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 pick will have to be within driving distance of their Phoenix AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.

How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.

Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech  college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Phoenix AZ area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Phoenix Ultrasound Technician Programs

Enroll in the Right Phoenix Ultrasound Tech Training

Selecting the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machinery. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you select an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Phoenix Arizona.

 

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