How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Program Near Athens Alabama
Now that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Athens AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a school. First, you have to find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And because some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's very important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? A number of individuals will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location must be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are other important factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable 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 basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Athens AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work functions of an ultrasound technician may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying 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 need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician students have the option to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually take about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finalize. Another alternative for those 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 relevant health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician programs do have a clinical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges set up with Athens AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you choose 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.
Sonographer Online Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound tech colleges have a practical 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. Practical training can typically be fulfilled by means of an internship at a local Athens ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the rest of the classes and training can be attended online in your Athens home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online colleges are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech college you are considering, check that the online school you enroll in 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 finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Once you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can start the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Athens AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you should also take into account, for example if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer program prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program 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 an extensive review of their teachers and course 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 acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in getting financial aid and student loans, which are frequently not accessible 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 Offered? Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have partnerships with Athens AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific manner to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Athens healthcare community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Athens AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing 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 be required 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 don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for 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 monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially 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, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Athens Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to embarking on a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic requirements, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for extended periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to keep collected when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This holds true 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 will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as a sonographer in Athens Alabama.