How to Select the Best Ultrasound Technician School Near Athens Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Athens AL, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you need to find the right program that will furnish the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And since some states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you investigate each school in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Most prospective students will start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Of course location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Work Description
There are various professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Athens AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job functions of a sonogram tech may include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Available
Sonogram tech students have the choice to acquire 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 4 years to finish. Another option for those who have previously obtained 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 medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to bear in mind is that most sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges sponsor with Athens AL hospitals and clinics. Once you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whichever state you elect to work 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.
Sonogram Tech Online Programs
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical requirement 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 a sponsored off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Athens ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training may be attended online in your Athens home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online colleges are many times less costly than on campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But similarly as with any sonography college you are reviewing, verify that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start 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 Athens AL area. Naturally location will be important if you choose the latter, and the price of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are other factors that you should also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are several questions that you need ask each sonographer college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still crucial to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the school is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a superior education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Athens AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have associations with Athens AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great manner to get practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Athens healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Athens AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually 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 person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, make certain 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 due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Athens Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is an important first step to launching a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other preferred skills include technical proficiency, the ability to remain calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each program you are reviewing. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each college, 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, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your objective to practice as a sonographer in Athens Alabama.