How to Enroll in the Right Sonography Degree Program Near Boaz Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Boaz AL, it's time to begin the procedure of selecting a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a skilled professional. And since some states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your options. But exactly where does one start? Most students will begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be considered when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this post. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education options that are available.
Sonographer Job Summary
There are more than one 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 implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. While many work as generalists there are specializations within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Boaz AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Standard daily job functions of an ultrasound technician can involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Readying the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and determining need for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound tech students have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will usually require about 18 months to 2 years to complete 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 related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to consider is that most ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many colleges set up through Boaz AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whichever state you elect 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 Boaz 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 Degrees
As aforementioned, almost all ultrasound technician schools have a clinical component to their programs. So while you can earn a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can often be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Boaz ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Boaz home. This is especially beneficial for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. Plus online colleges are many times more affordable than on campus options. Expenses for study materials and commuting can be lessened as well. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are considering, check that the online program you choose is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies 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 learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then online classes may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Sonography Colleges
Once you have decided on which degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of assessing and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Boaz AL area. Naturally location will be important if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier as well. But there are other variables that you should also take into account, for example if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can arrive at your ultimate selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonographer college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still crucial to make sure that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly regarded 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 an extensive review of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also assist in getting financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Boaz AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are reviewing have associations with Boaz AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on training in a clinical environment, they are also a way to satisfy the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Boaz healthcare community and help with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Boaz AL home. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble 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 perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to 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 far 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 personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student 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 speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the sonographer program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Boaz AL area, confirm that they are available. 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 carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Boaz Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to commencing a rewarding new career furnishing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic requirements, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for prolonged durations and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Other beneficial talents include technical aptitude, the ability to stay calm when faced with an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this article, there are several questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is true whether you enroll in an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your objective to work as an ultrasound technologist in Boaz Alabama.