How to Enroll in the Best Sonography Training Program Near Auburn Alabama
Since you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Auburn AL, it's time to begin the procedure of picking a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will furnish the necessary education to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each school in order to assess and compare your options. But just where does one begin? Many students will start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Certainly cost and location should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are additional critical factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this article. But first, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Job Summary
There are more than one professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Auburn AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job tasks of an ultrasound technician can consist of:
- Keeping records of patient medical 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
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying necessity for further testing
Sonographers must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Sonogram technician students have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally require around 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 option 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 field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a clinical training component as a portion of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which many colleges sponsor through Auburn AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever state you choose 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 earlier discussed, almost all sonogram tech colleges have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on campus lab or at an approved off-campus facility. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Auburn ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the rest of the classes and training can be accessed online in your Auburn home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently less costly than traditional options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But similarly as with any sonographer program you are reviewing, confirm that the online school you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As soon as you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound technician schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Auburn AL area. Clearly location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you should also take into account, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to carry out your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are a few questions that you need ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still important to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among 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 undergone a detailed evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Auburn AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the ultrasound technician colleges you are evaluating have associations with Auburn AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to receive hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Auburn medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Auburn AL residence. Students 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 bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer 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 instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Auburn AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Auburn Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the right ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is an important first step to commencing a fulfilling new career delivering 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 fairly good physical health, able to stand for extended periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Additional helpful talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain calm 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 article, there are several questions that you should ask each school 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 compare each program, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to work as a sonographer in Auburn Alabama.