How to Choose the Right Sonography Degree Program Near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Alexander City AL, it's time to start the process of choosing a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And since some states do mandate that ultrasound techs 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 school in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But just where does one start? Most individuals will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Work Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Alexander City AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram tech students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require about 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have already earned 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 field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that most sonographer programs do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many colleges organize through Alexander City AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to comply with the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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 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 Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Alexander City ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the remainder of the training and classes may be attended online in your Alexander City home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are many times more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech college you are looking at, verify that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
Now that you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Alexander City AL area. Naturally location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonographer program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to confirm that the school and program 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). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged 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 obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Alexander City AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are interested in have associations with Alexander City AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Alexander City health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Alexander City AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram technician program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Alexander City AL area, make sure 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 carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Alexander City Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a fulfilling new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Additional helpful talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each college, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Alexander City Alabama.