How to Enroll in an Accredited Sonography Program Near Albertville Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Albertville AL, the next step is to begin the process of picking a school. First, you have to find the right program that will provide the appropriate training to become a skilled professional. And because some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you research each college so that you can assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many prospective students will start by searching for schools 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 significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs 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 specialties within the profession, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Albertville AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work tasks of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another option for individuals who have previously received 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 related medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges organize through Albertville AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever 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 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 Programs
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Albertville ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Albertville home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But just as with every sonography school you are reviewing, make sure that the online school 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 especially significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Programs
When you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Albertville AL area. Of course location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional things that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous review of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online 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 assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Albertville AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited program for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have associations with Albertville AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates establish professional connections in the Albertville health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Albertville AL residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even 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 usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the sonographer program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Albertville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Albertville Ultrasound Technician Training
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to initiating a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools 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 condition, able to stand for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to practice as an ultrasound tech in Albertville Alabama.