How to Select the Right Ultrasound Tech Degree Program Near Auburn Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Auburn AL, it's time to start the process of picking a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's very important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? A number of individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location need to be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other critical factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are available.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most work in Auburn AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job tasks of an ultrasound tech can involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for supplemental testing
Sonographers must frequently evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally 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 up to four years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have already earned 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 medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 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 element as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which numerous colleges set up through Auburn AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to satisfy the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you decide to practice 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 Auburn 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 Classes
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Practical training can typically be satisfied through an internship at a local Auburn ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the classes and training may be attended online in your Auburn home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are often more affordable than on campus options. Costs for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just as with any ultrasound tech college you are looking at, confirm that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Colleges
As soon as you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Auburn AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification as well. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, for example if the schools are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? The majority of ultrasound tech colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to confirm that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations 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 a detailed evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Auburn AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level openings.
Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are reviewing have associations with Auburn AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific means to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Auburn healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the sonographer schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Auburn AL residence. Individuals who have chosen 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 concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small 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 classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Auburn AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Auburn Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a rewarding new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical condition, capable of standing for prolonged periods and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are considering. This is true whether you enroll in an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Auburn Alabama.