How to Choose the Right Ultrasound Tech School Near Anniston Alabama
Since you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Anniston AL, the next step is to start the procedure of choosing a school. First, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the necessary training to become a skilled professional. And because some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each college so that you can assess and compare your options. But just where does one start? A number of prospective students will begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Anniston AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job duties of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess 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 maintain that degree of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for individuals who have previously earned 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 relevant medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor with Anniston AL clinics and hospitals. After 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 Anniston 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Degrees
As earlier discussed, 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 conducted in an on campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Anniston ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. However the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Anniston home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less costly than on-campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But similarly as with every sonographer program you are reviewing, verify that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Colleges
After you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Anniston AL area. Clearly location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonographer program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a rigorous examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in obtaining financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Anniston AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the ultrasound tech programs you are interested in have associations with Anniston AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent means to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students form professional connections in the Anniston healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Anniston AL residence. 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer 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 classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately select can offer 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 Anniston AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Anniston Ultrasound Tech Program
Selecting the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a fulfilling new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for extended time frames and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This is the case whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can assess each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can realize your goal to work as a sonographer in Anniston Alabama.