How to Pick the Right Sonography Degree Program Near Athens Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Athens AL, the next step is to start the procedure of picking a college. First, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And because 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 examination. So it's extremely important that you research each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? A number of individuals will start by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are multiple 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 primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Athens AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work duties of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take around 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as four years to finish. 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 only 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that most sonographer schools do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up through Athens AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification 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 Athens 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 Programs
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Athens ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the balance of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Athens home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently more affordable than traditional alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But similarly as with any sonography program you are looking at, verify that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
After you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Athens AL area. Certainly location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech colleges have received some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to confirm that the program and school 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). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous review of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it can also obtain 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 ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Athens AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the sonogram technician colleges you are evaluating have partnerships with Athens AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Athens healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Athens AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the ultrasound tech program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out 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 Best Athens Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for extended periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an anxious or angry 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 looking at. This is true whether you choose an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each school, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Athens Alabama.