How to Select the Right Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Andalusia Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Andalusia AL, the next step is to begin the process of picking a college. First, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And given that a number of states do mandate that ultrasound techs 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 very important that you research each program so that you can assess and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? Many students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors also. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training options that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Andalusia AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Routine daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound tech students have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for individuals 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 medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training element as a portion of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous schools sponsor through Andalusia AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification prerequisites 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 Andalusia 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 Sonographer Degrees
As previously mentioned, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus facility. Clinical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Andalusia ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Andalusia home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for study materials and commuting can be reduced as well. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, make sure that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
When you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you will access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Andalusia AL area. Obviously location will be important if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional variables that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still important to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the college is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Andalusia AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are assessing have partnerships with Andalusia AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help graduates and students form professional connections in the Andalusia health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Andalusia AL home. Those who have opted 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 concern. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Andalusia AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Andalusia Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a vital first step to starting a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended 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 beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are multiple questions that you need to ask each school you are considering. This is the case whether you choose an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each college, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Andalusia Alabama.