How to Find an Accredited Sonography School Near Alabaster Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Alabaster AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school in order to evaluate and compare your options. But just where does one begin? A number of prospective students will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location should be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Alabaster AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily job functions of a sonogram tech may consist of:
- Preserving 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
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental 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 medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another option for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges 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 with Alabaster AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you decide 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.
Online Sonogram Tech Schools
As previously mentioned, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Alabaster ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Alabaster home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are frequently less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced also. But similarly as with any sonography school you are considering, 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 particularly crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Alabaster AL area. Certainly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound technician schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to make sure that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Alabaster AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech programs you are interested in have partnerships with Alabaster AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to get practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional connections in the Alabaster healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the sonographer programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Alabaster AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Alabaster Ultrasound Technician Program
Picking the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse 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 is true whether you select an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to work as an ultrasound tech in Alabaster Alabama.