How to Enroll in an Accredited Sonography Program Near Chelsea Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Chelsea AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. First, you need to find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate training to become a qualified professional. And because a number of states do mandate that sonographers be either licensed or certified, 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 assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one start? Most potential students will begin by looking for schools that are within travelling 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 example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in depth later in this post. But first, let's discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Job Description
There are several acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also called ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). Regardless of name, they all have the same primary job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Even though many practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Chelsea AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job duties of an ultrasound technician can include:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and identifying necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the option to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take around 18 months to 2 years to complete dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another option for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related medical sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to keep in mind is that the majority of ultrasound technician schools 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 Chelsea AL hospitals and clinics. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to fulfill the licensing or certification 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 Chelsea 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, nearly all ultrasound technician schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off campus facility. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Chelsea ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training can be attended online in your Chelsea home. This is especially beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. Plus online schools are often more affordable than on-campus alternatives. Expenses for study materials and commuting may be lessened as well. But similarly as with any ultrasound tech program you are considering, verify that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial 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 convenience of your own home, then an online school could be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Schools
As soon as you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Chelsea AL area. Certainly location will be significant if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are other variables that you should also take into consideration, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, following are some questions that you need ask each sonography program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech colleges have obtained some type of accreditation, whether regional or national. Even so, it's still imperative to confirm 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 assessment of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it might also earn 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. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited schools. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And numerous Chelsea AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the sonogram tech programs you are evaluating have associations with Chelsea AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a great way to obtain hands on training in a clinical environment, they are additionally a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional connections in the Chelsea health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the sonographer schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large 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 a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Chelsea AL residence. Those who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average 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 some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Chelsea AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Chelsea Ultrasound Technician Program
Selecting the ideal ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is a vital first step to commencing a gratifying new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Additional beneficial skills 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 covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you need to ask each college you are looking at. This is true whether you choose an online program or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can evaluate each school, you can narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Chelsea Alabama.