How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Alabaster Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Alabaster AL, it's time to start the process of picking a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each school so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Most prospective students will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.
Sonographer Occupation Description
There are several 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 primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Alabaster AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work tasks of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech students have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finish. Another option for individuals who have previously received 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 sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges set up through Alabaster AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you elect to work 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 Ultrasound Technician Programs
As aforementioned, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Alabaster ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Alabaster home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online schools are often less costly than on-campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech school you are looking at, make sure that the online program you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly regarded 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 outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Tech Programs
Once you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Alabaster AL area. Clearly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide 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 sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their instructors 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 learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Alabaster AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound technician programs you are reviewing have partnerships with Alabaster AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to obtain hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Alabaster medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms 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 driving distance of their Alabaster AL residence. Those who have chosen 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 keep in mind is that if you choose 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Alabaster Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to entering a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for prolonged periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each school you are reviewing. This is the case whether you enroll in an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can realize your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Alabaster Alabama.