How to Choose the Best Sonography College Near Attalla Alabama
Once you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Attalla AL, the next step is to begin the process of picking a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you investigate each program so that you can assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Most students will begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other critical factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Attalla AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Standard daily work duties of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage 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
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge 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 maintain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually involve around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have previously obtained 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 just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician programs do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many colleges sponsor through Attalla AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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 Attalla 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 Sonogram Tech Degrees
As earlier discussed, nearly all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either conducted in an on-campus lab or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Practical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Attalla ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Attalla home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that keep working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are many times more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased as well. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are looking at, make sure that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Sonography Programs
Now that you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a college campus in the Attalla AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are additional factors that you must also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are several questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? Most ultrasound tech colleges have earned some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 gone through a rigorous review of their instructors 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 learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Attalla AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician schools you are reviewing have associations with Attalla AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only a great manner to receive practical training in a clinical environment, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates establish professional connections in the Attalla medical community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable 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 many students, the school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Attalla AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally 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 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort 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 permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Attalla AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Attalla Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a vital first step to starting a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional beneficial skills include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Attalla Alabama.