How to Choose the Best Ultrasound Technician College Near Clanton Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Clanton AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. To begin with, you have to find the ideal program that will furnish the proper training to become a qualified professional. And since a number of states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a licensing or certification exam. So it's very important that you investigate each school in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But exactly where does one start? Most individuals will begin by looking for colleges that are within travelling distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally cost and location should be taken into account when arriving at a decision, but there are additional significant factors as well. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they provide internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be covered more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online training options that are offered.
Ultrasound Technician Job Summary
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 basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While many practice as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most practice in Clanton AL clinics, hospitals, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily job duties of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for usage and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
- Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Operating equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for additional testing
Sonographers must routinely assess the performance and safety of their equipment. They also are held to a high ethical 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 mandated to enroll in continuing education training on an ongoing basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram tech enrollees have the opportunity to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will generally take around 18 months to 2 years to complete depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to 4 years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already received 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 medical field, you can enroll in a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to complete. One thing to consider is that almost all ultrasound technician colleges do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by participating in an internship program which many schools set up 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 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 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.
Online Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As aforementioned, nearly all sonogram technician schools have a practical component to their programs. So while you can obtain a certificate or degree online, a substantial portion of the training will be either held in an on-campus lab 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 private practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Clanton home. This is particularly convenient for those students that continue working while earning their degrees. In addition online programs are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Expenditures for commuting and study materials can be reduced also. But similarly as with every ultrasound tech school you are looking at, check 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 especially important for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Sonogram Tech Colleges
Once you have determined the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of reviewing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will access classes online or travel to a college campus in the Clanton AL area. Of course location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier also. But there are other factors that you must also take into consideration, for instance if the programs are accredited and if they offer internships. Therefore in order to perform your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, following are some questions that you may want to ask each sonography school before deciding.
Are the Sonogram Technician Programs Accredited? A large number of ultrasound tech schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. However, it's still imperative to verify that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations 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 gone through a detailed review of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a quality education, accreditation will also help in acquiring financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And a number of Clanton AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are reviewing have associations with Clanton AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Internships are not only an excellent means to get hands on training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to satisfy the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they may assist students and graduates develop professional relationships in the Clanton medical community and assist with obtaining employment.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the sonographer programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Clanton AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the ultrasound tech college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Clanton AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Clanton Ultrasound Tech Program
Choosing the right ultrasound technician degree or certificate program is a vital first step to initiating a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician programs require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. In addition to meeting academic standards, you need to be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for extended durations and able to regularly lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other beneficial skills include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have covered in this post, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are considering. This holds true whether you enroll in 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 alternatives until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, dedication and determination to succeed, you can achieve your goal to practice as a sonographer in Clanton Alabama.