How to Select an Accredited Sonography Degree Program Near Albertville Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Albertville AL, the next step is to begin the process of choosing a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school so that you can assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? A number of potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are several acceptable 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 description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Albertville AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work tasks of a sonogram technician can include:
- 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 use and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve around 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have already earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize with Albertville AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whatever state you choose 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 Albertville 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 previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Albertville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes may be attended online in your Albertville home. This is particularly beneficial for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online schools are often more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are considering, check that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly respected 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 disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes could be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Albertville AL area. Certainly location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are other things that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? Most sonogram tech schools have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 an extensive review of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Albertville AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are evaluating have associations with Albertville AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to receive hands on experience 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 help graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Albertville health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Albertville AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Albertville AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Albertville Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the ideal ultrasound tech certificate or degree program is a vital first step to initiating a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from meeting academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty 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 levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is the case whether you select an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your options 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 goal to work as an ultrasound tech in Albertville Alabama.