How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician College Near Alexander City Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Alexander City AL, it's time to start the procedure of choosing a college. First, you need to find the right program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each program so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Many prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifications will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Summary
There are various professional 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 primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Alexander City AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning 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 identifying necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally involve about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to complete. Another option for individuals who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have obtained 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 finish. Something to bear in mind is that most ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Alexander City AL hospitals and clinics. When 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 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 Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a significant part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Practical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Alexander City ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Alexander City home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently more affordable than on-campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just as with any sonography program you are reviewing, verify that the online program you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Ultrasound Tech Colleges
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of assessing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Alexander City AL area. Clearly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier also. But there are other variables that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each sonography program prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician colleges have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school 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 undergone a detailed assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Alexander City AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internships Provided? Find out if the ultrasound tech colleges you are interested in have partnerships with Alexander City AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Alexander City health care community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Alexander City AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need 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 Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the ultrasound tech school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt 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, check if that is an alternative 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 may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Alexander City Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to initiating a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it frequently necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Additional preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you select an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Alexander City Alabama.