Is any prior education or training required?
The path to becoming an ultrasound technician in Arizona can start by taking courses in math, science and computers while you are still in high school. This will help you to be accepted into a diagnostic sonography program at a college offering a certificate or degree in that area of study. Most certificate programs will take 12 months to complete and provide you with enough training to take the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation Exam (SPI) given by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). However, unless you have previous education in some healthcare field, you will most likely need to attend college and obtain an Associate’s degree to gain the knowledge and experience needed to pass the exam.
Are ultrasound technician required to be certified?
While there is no licensing requirement, there are credentials that can be earned by taking different exams after passing the SPI. Most employers will be looking for a passing score on the SPI and then at least one other exam passed. The most common ones will be for performing OB/GYN and abdominal sonograms. Once you receive these credentials, and are registered, you are ready to begin applying for jobs. Some people will start applying before taking the certification exams, but very few employers will hire someone with no credentials.
What tasks is an ultrasound technician legally allowed to perform?
As a registered, certified ultrasound technician in Arizona, you can work in hospitals, quick care clinics, outpatient imaging facilities and private medical practices. Your job will be to use the sonography equipment to generate images of the internal organs and tissues the doctor needs to see. As an OB/GYN sonographer you will be creating still images and videos of the growing fetus in the uterus. Doctors will look over the images and videos you produce to make sure that the fetus is growing at the right rate, and that everything looks and functions the way it needs to in order to have a healthy baby. You will also be giving the expecting parents a glimpse of their child. In most cases, this is a happy and enjoyable job.
Choosing to specialize in abdominal ultrasounds, you will be creating images of the whole abdominal cavity. This is useful if the patient is having trouble with digestion. The doctor will be looking to make sure that everything is functioning properly and that there are no growths in the area. Understanding the different organs, and how they function will be important so you can adjust the equipment to obtain the images requested by the doctor.
While performing a scan on a patient, you must be aware of what you are seeing and how to get the best images for the doctor. While you are working, the patient is often asking what you see and if everything is all right. It is not within the scope of the technician’s job to give the patient any information on what he or she sees or does not see; that is left to the doctor to do. Many times, the technician has accidentally given false information to the patient. This misinformation can be the start of an unnecessary legal battle. Your training and education will include your legal, moral and ethical responsibilities so you have a full understanding of the things you can and cannot do concerning the patients and their privacy.
Career outlook for ultrasound technicians in Arizona
Becoming an ultrasound technician in Arizona will give you stable income in a safe work environment. You can continue your education to become a supervisor or instructor, or you can take additional examinations for more credentials when you decide it is time for a change. The field itself is constantly changing, improving and expanding so you will not become bored and need to change careers.