How to Find the Best Sonography School Near Atmore Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Atmore AL, the next step is to begin the process of picking a college. First, you must find the right program that will furnish the proper education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you research each school in order to evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Many potential students will begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location must be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered 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 options that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
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 function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many work as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority work in Atmore AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work duties 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
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finalize. Another option for those 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 health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools do have a practical training component as a portion of their course of study. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which numerous schools organize through Atmore AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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 Atmore 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 Tech Classes
As earlier discussed, nearly all sonogram technician colleges have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Clinical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Atmore ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. But the rest of the training and classes can be accessed online in your Atmore home. This is particularly convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonography school you are looking at, confirm that the online school 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 particularly crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Programs
As soon as you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound technician colleges. You may first want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a college campus in the Atmore AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are other factors that you must also take into account, such as if the programs are accredited and if they sponsor internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? Most sonogram tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies 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 detailed assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets 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 ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Atmore AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech schools you are evaluating have partnerships with Atmore AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great means 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 secondary benefit, they can assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Atmore medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing 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 College Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Atmore AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have 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 Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student 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 an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Atmore AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Atmore Ultrasound Technician Program
Choosing the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to launching a gratifying new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you need to be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other preferred skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep 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 several questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This holds true whether you enroll in an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to work as a sonographer in Atmore Alabama.