How to Choose an Accredited Ultrasound Tech Course Near Alexander City Alabama
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Alexander City AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a college. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate training to become a skilled 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 certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school in order to assess and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? A number of individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost should 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 offer internships. These and other qualifications will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are more than one 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 basic job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Alexander City AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily work tasks of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take around 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already 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 relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer colleges do have a clinical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by taking part in an internship program which many colleges organize with Alexander City AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever state you choose 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 Degrees
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an approved off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Alexander City ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Alexander City home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. Plus online colleges are often less expensive than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be reduced also. But similarly as with any sonographer college you are reviewing, 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 important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Alexander City AL area. Obviously location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional variables that you must also take into consideration, such as if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? Most sonogram tech colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 undergone a detailed examination of their teachers and educational materials. If the program is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Alexander City AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the sonogram technician schools you are evaluating have relationships with Alexander City AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Alexander City medical community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Alexander City AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alexander City AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Alexander City Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to embarking on a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods and able to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are considering. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Alexander City Alabama.