How to Find the Right Sonography Course Near Alexander City Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Alexander City AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a college. First, you have to find the right program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Most individuals will start by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be covered more in depth later in this post. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Job Description
There are several acceptable 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 basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Alexander City AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job tasks of a sonogram technician may include:
- Preserving records of patient medical 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
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take about 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finalize. Another option for those who have already 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 relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer programs do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous schools organize through Alexander City AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 Alexander City 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 Programs
As earlier discussed, almost all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So while you can earn a degree or certificate online, a significant part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Alexander City ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Alexander City home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online schools are many times more affordable than on-campus options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting can be lessened as well. But similarly as with every sonography program you are looking at, make sure that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial 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 an online degree may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Alexander City AL area. Certainly location will be critical if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification as well. But there are other factors that you should also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important 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 assessment of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Alexander City AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are evaluating have associations with Alexander City AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Alexander City health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Alexander City AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide 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 considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Alexander City AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Alexander City Ultrasound Technician Training
Picking the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a fulfilling new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Other desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate 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, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Alexander City Alabama.