How to Enroll in the Right Ultrasound Tech Program Near Atmore Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Atmore AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? A number of potential students will begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Of course cost and location need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and additional qualifications will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonographer Occupation Summary
There are several acceptable 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Atmore AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job tasks of an ultrasound tech can consist of:
- Maintaining 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 cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently assess the safety and performance of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish depending on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another option for those who have already obtained a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that almost all sonographer programs do have a clinical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many colleges organize with Atmore AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to satisfy the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you decide 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 Technician Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an approved off campus facility. Practical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Atmore ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. However the remainder of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Atmore home. This is especially convenient for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are many times less expensive than on campus options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be lessened as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech school you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you ultimately pick is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then online classes could be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Programs
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Atmore AL area. Of course location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are other things that you should also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they sponsor internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, following are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? Most ultrasound tech colleges have acquired some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed review of their teachers and course materials. If the school is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Atmore AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have relationships with Atmore AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get practical training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist graduates and students establish professional relationships in the Atmore health care community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Atmore AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 perhaps out of your local area, you might 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 to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching 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 ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Atmore AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Atmore Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to entering a gratifying new profession furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you must be in at least reasonably good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged durations with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Additional helpful skills include technical aptitude, the ability to keep levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing. This is true whether you choose an online degree or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each school, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Atmore Alabama.