How to Choose an Accredited Sonography College Near Chelsea Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Chelsea AL, it's time to begin the procedure of choosing a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that a number of states do require 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 examination. So it's very important that you research each program in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Most individuals 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 making a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers 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 programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Work Description
There are more than one acceptable 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 description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. The majority practice in Chelsea AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily work duties of a sonogram tech 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 use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Utilizing equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge 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 up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degrees Available
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as 4 years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already earned 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 health field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to keep in mind is that most sonographer colleges do have a practical training element as a portion of their curriculum. It often may be satisfied by participating in an internship program which many colleges organize with Chelsea AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any 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 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.
Online Sonographer Degrees
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram tech colleges have a practical component to their programs. So although you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus facility. Practical training can typically be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Chelsea ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the remainder of the classes and training may be attended online in your Chelsea home. This is especially convenient for those students that keep working while earning their degrees. Plus online programs are many times less costly than on-campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased as well. But just as with every sonographer college you are looking at, make sure that the online program you choose is accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools
After you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Chelsea AL area. Obviously location will be significant if you decide on the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualifier as well. But there are other things that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography college before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Schools Accredited? A large number of sonogram technician 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. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed evaluation of their instructors and educational materials. If the college is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation may also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Chelsea AL employers will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level openings.
Are Internships Sponsored? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are reviewing have relationships with Chelsea AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent manner to receive practical training in a clinical setting, they are additionally a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can assist graduates and students form professional connections in the Chelsea medical community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Chelsea 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 concern. 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the sonogram tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the sonographer school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Chelsea AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Chelsea Ultrasound Technician Program
Enrolling in the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to initiating a fulfilling new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy time frames with the ability to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and move heavy equipment. Additional preferred talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to communicate clearly and compassionately. As we have addressed in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This is true whether you choose an online program or travel to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can evaluate each program, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can achieve your objective to work as a sonographer in Chelsea Alabama.