How to Find the Right Sonography Course Near Clanton Alabama
Since you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Clanton AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of selecting a school. To begin with, you must find the ideal program that will furnish the appropriate education to become a qualified professional. And because some states do require that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program so that you can evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one start? Many prospective students will begin by searching for schools 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 important factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they sponsor internships. These and other qualifications will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online training programs that are available.
Ultrasound Technician Occupation Description
There are various 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 primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Clanton AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Common daily job duties of a sonogram tech may involve:
- Keeping records of patient case histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for further testing
Ultrasound techs must routinely gauge the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. In order to sustain that degree of professionalism and stay up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available
Ultrasound technician students have the choice to earn either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require about 18 months to 2 years to finish based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finalize. 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 related health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will take only 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that almost all sonographer programs do have a practical training element as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which many schools sponsor through Clanton AL clinics and hospitals. After you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing prerequisites in Alabama or whatever 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 Clanton 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.
Sonographer Online Programs
As previously mentioned, almost all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain 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 medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Clanton ALoutpatient clinic, hospital or private practice. However the rest of the training and classes can be attended online in your Clanton home. This is especially beneficial for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online schools are many times less expensive than traditional options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be reduced also. But just as with any sonographer college you are considering, check that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Sonography Programs
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the process of evaluating and comparing ultrasound tech schools. You may first want to choose whether you would rather attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Clanton AL area. Clearly location will be critical if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualifier also. But there are other things that you should also take into account, for example if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internship programs. Therefore in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech college before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech colleges have received some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. Even so, it's still imperative to verify that the school and program are accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed examination of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Along with ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited colleges. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Clanton AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the sonogram technician programs you are evaluating have relationships with Clanton AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships a great means to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are also a means to satisfy the practical training requirement for most programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help graduates and students develop professional relationships in the Clanton healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the sonographer programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Clanton AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the sonographer program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Clanton AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Clanton Ultrasound Tech Training
Selecting the right ultrasound technician certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a rewarding new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Along with meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for prolonged time frames and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to position patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other desirable skills include technical proficiency, 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 several questions that you should ask each program you are considering. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or drive to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can compare each school, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can realize your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Clanton Alabama.