How to Enroll in an Accredited Ultrasound Technician College Near Bessemer Alabama
Once you have made a decision to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Bessemer AL, it's time to start the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you have to find the right program that will furnish the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's extremely important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? A number of prospective students will begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost must be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internships. These and other qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this article. But first, let's review what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education options that are available.
Sonogram Tech Occupation Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. Regardless of name, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Bessemer AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work tasks of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for usage and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying need for further testing
Sonographers must frequently gauge the performance and safety of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that degree of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require around 18 months to 2 years to accomplish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finish. Another option for individuals who have previously 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 related health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all sonographer programs do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous schools organize through Bessemer AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 Bessemer 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 Degrees
As previously mentioned, virtually all ultrasound technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either conducted in an on campus lab or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be fulfilled through an internship at a local Bessemer ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Bessemer home. This is particularly convenient for those individuals that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online programs are often more affordable than on-campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be reduced as well. But similarly as with every sonography program you are considering, confirm that the online program you enroll in is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Colleges
After you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you would rather access classes online or commute to a college campus in the Bessemer AL area. Certainly location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are additional factors that you should also take into account, for example if the schools are accredited and if they provide internships. So 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 sonographer school prior to making a decision.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? The majority of sonogram tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, 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). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a detailed examination of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a premium education, accreditation will also assist in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Bessemer AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry-level openings.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Bessemer AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Bessemer healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Bessemer AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 decision. 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 as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out 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 might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Bessemer Ultrasound Tech Training
Picking the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a crucial first step to initiating a gratifying new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer schools require that you have a high school diploma or a GED. Along with satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for lengthy time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machines. Additional beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay levelheaded when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have discussed in this article, there are several questions that you need to ask each college you are reviewing. This is the case whether you choose an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each college, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Bessemer Alabama.