How to Select an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Course Near Auburn Alabama
Since you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Auburn AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? Many students will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and other qualifiers will be discussed more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are multiple professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Auburn AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job tasks of an ultrasound tech can include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then sterilizing and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must regularly gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degrees Available
Sonogram technician enrollees 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 based upon the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to complete. Another alternative 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 related health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to keep in mind is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor through Auburn AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the licensing or certification requirements 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Schools
As aforementioned, virtually all ultrasound tech schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus medical care provider. Practical training can often be fulfilled through an internship at a local Auburn ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Auburn home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are many times less expensive than on campus alternatives. Costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are looking at, make sure 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 crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Sonography Programs
Now that you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Auburn AL area. Obviously location will be important if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are other variables that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech colleges have received some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Auburn AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry-level positions.
Are Internship Programs Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are evaluating have associations with Auburn AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to get hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional connections in the Auburn health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Auburn AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Auburn AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Auburn Ultrasound Technician Training
Choosing the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is a vital first step to starting a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy equipment. Additional beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this post, there are several questions that you need to ask each program you are looking at. This is true whether you choose an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Auburn Alabama.