How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Alabaster Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Alabaster AL, the next step is to start the procedure of picking a school. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? A number of potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internship programs. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Summary
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority practice in Alabaster AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily work duties of an ultrasound tech may consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram tech enrollees have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another option for those who have already 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 health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges organize through Alabaster AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama 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 Alabaster AL 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.
Sonographer Online Classes
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Alabaster ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Alabaster home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are often more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But just as with any sonographer college you are reviewing, confirm that the online program you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Programs
After you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Alabaster AL area. Clearly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Alabaster AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram technician colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Alabaster AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Alabaster medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Alabaster AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Alabaster Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to embarking on a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for prolonged time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each college, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Alabaster Alabama.