How to Select the Right Sonography Degree Program Near Phoenix Arizona
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Phoenix AZ, the next step is to begin the process of picking a college. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you research each school so that you can assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? Many students will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are multiple professional 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health 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 an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have previously earned 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 related medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize with Phoenix AZ hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Arizona or whichever state you choose to practice 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 Sonographer Degrees
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part 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 rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Phoenix home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be decreased also. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech program you are looking at, make sure that the online school you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly important for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Phoenix AZ area. Of course location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification also. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to verify that the school and program 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 rigorous examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets 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 securing financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Phoenix AZ health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level jobs.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the sonogram technician colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Phoenix AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Phoenix health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Phoenix AZ home. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally 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 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 might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? 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 allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. 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 some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night 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 credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Phoenix Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to entering a gratifying new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for lengthy durations and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a sonographer in Phoenix Arizona.