How to Pick an Accredited Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Near Clanton Alabama
Once you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Clanton AL, the next step is to start the process of selecting a college. First, you need to find the ideal program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And since some states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing examination. So it's extremely important that you research each school so that you can evaluate and compare your options. But exactly where does one begin? Most students will begin by searching for schools that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost need to be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's review what an ultrasound tech does and the credentials and online education programs that are offered.
Sonogram Tech Job Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to carry out diagnostic ultrasound procedures on patients. Although many practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Clanton AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily work tasks of a sonogram technician may consist of:
- Preserving 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 cleaning and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and determining need for supplemental testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the safety and performance of their machines. They also are held to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that degree of professionalism and remain current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education programs on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Tech Degree Programs Offered
Ultrasound technician students have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally 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 as long as 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for those who have previously obtained 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 relevant health sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to complete. Something to bear in mind is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It can often be fulfilled by taking part in an internship program which numerous colleges organize through Clanton AL clinics and hospitals. Once you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification requirements in Alabama or whatever 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 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.
Ultrasound Technician Online Programs
As previously mentioned, nearly all sonogram tech schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can receive a degree or certificate online, a significant portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can typically be fulfilled through an internship at a local Clanton ALhospital, outpatient clinic or family practice. But the balance of the training and classes can be attended online in your Clanton home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while obtaining their degrees. Plus online programs are often less expensive than on-campus options. Expenses for commuting and study materials can be lessened also. But similarly as with every sonography school you are looking at, confirm that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to learn away from the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
Once you have decided on which certificate or degree that you would like to earn, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing sonogram tech schools. You will first probably want to choose whether you would rather access classes online or travel to a school campus in the Clanton AL area. Of course location will be critical if you decide on the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an initial 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. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonography college prior to making a decision.
Are the Sonogram Technician Schools Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have obtained some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still important to verify that the program and school are accredited. Among 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 earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive evaluation of their instructors and course materials. If the school is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also assist in obtaining financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation can also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And many Clanton AL health facilities will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Find out if the ultrasound technician programs you are evaluating have partnerships with Clanton AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for most programs. As an ancillary benefit, they may help students and graduates form professional connections in the Clanton healthcare community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the sonographer schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Clanton AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor 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 School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the ultrasound tech college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Clanton AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Clanton Ultrasound Technician Training
Enrolling in the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to launching a gratifying new career providing diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical health, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to position patients and move heavy machines. Other preferred talents include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when confronted by 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 program you are reviewing. This holds true whether you select an online program or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the appropriate questions so that you can assess each school, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the best program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as a sonographer in Clanton Alabama.